The other day, my little sister asked me a question that has been asked before: Where does all this stuff come from? She was on the other end of a phone conversation and not standing next to me in my office. Had she been in my office, I would have assumed she meant the castoff bits and bobs that needed to be filed, notes, and lots and lots of papers. Where all these had accumulated from, who knows? But once my inner paranoid housekeeper was quieted, I realized she was talking about where I got my book ideas from. I had an easy answer: my imagination! Okay, but what fuels this imagination? That’s… a bit more complicated.
Does Calliope (the Greek muse of epic poetry – or the modern stories writ and displayed by electronic tablet) come to visit me? I doubt it. I’m inspired by the oddest of things. While I was writing my WIP (work in progress) tentatively named Restitution, I was sitting at my desk with my legs propped up on it. I suddenly flashed upon a memory of skinny Levi jeans and Converse basketball shoes. In that moment, I had the character I was searching for. He will play a major role in a Twilight Zone-ish type of haunt. I’ve called him Jerry, but deep down I knew him as someone else.
Now I had the character, but where did the haunt come from? I guess this is where Stephen King’s technique of What If comes into it. What if Jerry had waited his entire teen life for, let’s say, a date or a specific event, but on that day, he dies… Bingo! I’m not spoiling anything by letting you know this because there were many Bingos shouted that day. (My neighbors must think we are holding illegal Bingo games in my basement.)
I find inspiration in jeans and shoes, storms and sounds. I gather my life experiences and data-mine them for ideas. Sometimes I simply listen to the world around me, and a lot of it comes from somewhere in the ether. When I write, for the most part, I let the story happen, guided by my characters who constantly chatter in my head. They’re a nice bunch mostly. Though Angelo has been in a snit lately. He’s my brooder. He is handsome and heroic. He can't understand how could Mia prefer Ted to him? It's just love, Angelo. Love.
What inspires you? Not necessarily to write, but to wear that outfit to work or to teach the children in your classes? Every day, in some form, you go through the very same thing I do when sitting down to write. What if…
Below a cute video with a Korean group rapping about Converse sneakers.