So, my first blog post. The awkward one, where I couldn’t think of what to write…and thenceforth came the inspiration. Write about inspiration!
It’s one of the most common questions an author, especially a fantasy author, gets asked. Where do you get your ideas? My first reaction is normally to say “I find them down the back of the sofa, with the loose change and the biros”, but that’s not really very helpful, is it?
The thing is, for each book there is no one inspiration, or not for me anyway. Each book comes about when three or more bits of inspiration collide.
For my current Work In Progress, I can pinpoint those.
Firstly, I was asked to present a list of ideas. This is a great jolt for inspiration, because you actually have to think of something! Having recently read some classic adventure fiction, I plumped for two highwaymen. They’re quite new at it, I thought. What if they’ve been thrown out of their old job, and have been forced into this? OooOoh. What if they’re brother and sister while we’re at it? Dick Turpin and the Wicked Lady.
Then I had to think a little deeper about this, about where these people are — something I usually do as I write the book, tbh, and this only really took root after I’d written the first couple of chapters. I’m fascinated by revolution (Up pitchforks!), so I thought about revolutionary France as a backdrop, but that wasn’t quite right. And then, because I read a lot of non fiction, I was reading about post-Moorish Spain, and thought “Oooooh! I can do something with that!”, not to mention I adore Morocco, so I wanted my main city to have that heat drenched, sun baked feel. So it turns out that my world is post an empire that fell, leaving them in a version of the Dark Ages…followed by a resurgence in technology, and that led to a revolution….and now here we are, after all the dust has settled, but while old resentments are still festering. And of course, no revolution is really complete without a counter-revolution….
There was a third thing also, but I’m saving that for the Big Reveal!
Other instances include me watching Dynamo on the telly, and wondering “What if he really can do magic? What if his real magic didn’t look as good as his tricks?” which butted up in my head with a recent reread of Wizard of the Pigeons, and my husband telling me about this ex-special-forces guy who wears twin sets and pearls, floral skirts, a handlebar mustache and insists everyone call him Deirdre as a way to deal with his PTSD…
Another series was inspired by a random comment on a forum somewhere that got tangled up with a really weird dream I had about some seriously creepy magic married to my desire to write a type of protag I’d never tried before.
My point here is — inspiration often doesn’t come from just one thing, one thought, one picture, one idea. It’s a bit from here, a bit from there, a sudden joining of the two in ways that might be unexpected. And one reason that I think perhaps the most vital attribute a writer needs is an insatiable curiosity — about everything. People, places, histories. Everything.
Then again, it could just be that I’m incredibly nosy!