My father was a natural storyteller. Just how he was. He’d come home from work and tell some story about how he pulled some prank on someone (often this guy’s Dad) or how he fought to get pay raises for his guys (Dad was a plant manager, had a team of guys who worked under him). Often he’d wander off into stories: stories of him getting into a knife fight or flipping his snowmobile or how he lost his pinky finger. (I’m not making any of that up. And if you knew the man, you’d grok that. He was well-armed and certain to not take any shit from anyone. Including cops. Or the government at large.)
Some of his stories, you know, I was a kid. I maybe didn’t get them or didn’t really care. But even still, I listened and I absorbed that — and, outside of realizing, “Hey, if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, I’m trusting my old man to lead the charge against the undead horde,” I also eventually came to realize that some of my inclination toward storytelling is very much nurture over nature. I wasn’t born with it, but rather, it was kind of passed to me — not genes, probably, but memes. Skills and ideas that survive against others.
Of course, even still, it’s reasonable short-hand to call it DNA, I think. Because over time, even though it’s something you pick up rather than something that you’re born with, it still changes your fundamental material, still tweaks your human code a little bit.
So, the question I’m putting forth to you is, who’s in your storytelling DNA? It can be writers, too — hell, I know I’m the turbid broth of Robert McCammon, Douglas Adams, Joe Lansdale, Christopher Moore, and others. But go beyond just those you’ve read and look too to those in your life. Who flipped on that storyteller switch inside your head? Who taught you to love hearing and telling stories?