Collecting Inspiration

October 5, 2011

ETA Oct 9: If anyone out there has similar blog entries on inspiration, be it initial inspiration or continued inspiration for a character, place, whatever -- please hit me with a link. If blogger is a jerk and won't let you comment, email kate AT kateyhawthorne DOT com. I am sick of talking about myself, and would like to do a link collection post on the subject soon. You guys are more interesting. (If you have no current blog post, just email me the story and details -- I'll write it up and include it and link to you and your stuff!)

I, like pretty much every reader and writer I know, collect inspiration. Some people start with a world or a plot. I tend to start with a character or three and build things around them. Often, as when dealing with something as complex as a whole world that exists just beneath the surface of my own reality (see: the awakened superpowered folk of whom I often write), that ends up changing the characters a little. Which is cool, because that's how it should be -- environment affects real people, and it ought to affect fictional characters, too.

But it starts with the character, for me. And sometimes it comes from unexpected places.

Sam from EQUILIBRIUM, as I've said before, started with my best friend. She's adopted, and this is not a huge deal. I asked her if she ever wanted to read an adopted character with zero angst about it, whose bio parents did not end up being royal or special or at all relevant to his existence. She said yes, please. And she happens to love erotic romance. That's why the book is dedicated to her.

Hansen from EQUILIBRIUM started with a discussion in the car. My husband was driving me and said best friend to Union Station, and informed us that all relationships must be in Nash Equilibrium. A massive dissection of this theory followed, during which B was drawing diagrams on my white board. I immediately saw this dorky vegan know-it-all trying to explain this to someone, and it was on.

Brady from RIOT BOY is all over the place. There's a story he tells about the advent of his band's name, Willoughby Spit, in the course of the novel -- that actually happened. We were driving to Virginia Beach and came across the exit for Willoughby Spit, which is a real town on the Chesapeake. Little punk rock guitar-playing addict that I am, I'm going, "That's a great name for a punk band!" When Brady popped up, I went and made him the bass player instead of the guitarist, because Paul Simonon was, and is, the hottest punk rocker ever.

Etienne from RIOT BOY happened when I was spending a lot of time in the hospital for family stuff. I was aching for a happy ending and reading RIMBAUD: COMPLETE WORKS AND SELECTED LETTERS, and I had this very clear image of him drinking wine and hiding from the world with it.

Jonah from SCRIPPED* was a woman, at first -- but I already had the other two characters, and realized that the story didn't work unless he was a man. Which, as one might imagine, changed things considerably. He's a non-hero, inspired by old school fairy tales -- the kind where once you're lured into faerie, you're probably better off if you never make it out again. You know the kind I mean. Bit of a kickback against the dangerous Faerie Propaganda of Yeats, really.

They all get injections from elsewhere -- some traceable, some not so much. Sam got my favorite, the "whatever" bisexuality**, which seemed to match up with his "whatever" adopted kid attitude. Hansen got an interest in costume drama and vegetarianism. Brady got a checkered comic book villain past. Et got a high school football career and a cop sister. Jonah got a more timid form of bisexuality, the one that's uncomfortable with itself, but is dragged into the light and finds peace there. Partly because he's younger than Sam, partly because that's just Jonah.

And of course there are the other books, but these are the ones that are out or have a fast-approaching release. So now I'm asking you: what weird things have sparked your characters, places, events? Seemingly inane moments in a day, pictures in a window, music on the radio, anything. Which ones stick out as having been more of a discovery than a creation, just because of their inspiration, to you?

And I'm asking this not just of people with books/stories/whatever out there -- any reader/writer invents all day long. Hit me!

*Okay, this is my upcoming book as KV Taylor, for the record, which means it's more horror than romance -- though most people who've read it have referred to it as a supremely broken paranormal romance, anyhow. But it's relevant here since Jonah's, well, mine.

**Note that I've been meaning to make for some time now: 
I could get into trouble for saying this, but I'm guessing bisexual people probably don't write much GFY. It kind of feels like a denial of our already often denied existence. I know it's not intended that way, and have read and enjoyed plenty of GFY -- mostly because it's natural for me to interpret it as latent bi/pan/whateversexuality finally screaming too loudly -- often due to a deep attraction to one individual, yes -- to be willfully ignored any longer. Which is why I think of it as OFY... now I know the term exists. 

We like it both ways, and for those of us comfy with that, it's totally not a huge deal to go from dating a string of men to our first woman, or vice versa, in either direction. At least, no huger a deal than any new relationship. See also: WHATEVER.
Unknown said...

Sometimes, I confess, inspiration comes from cheesy 80s videos. ha What can I say? I'm on a 70s - 80s music run this week. :D That and long haired men. Definitely inspiration there. Never could shake that weakness.

Like you, stories often start off with a character for me. I love that. It's probably my favorite inspiration. Like meeting a new person you really connect with, only they live in your head.

Music, an odd phrase that wedges in my brain, random thoughts as I drift to sleep. A really good book. A movie. A certain image.

Oh, and here's a post on inspiration too. It's about a month old, but I think it fits the theme:

Take care, Katey!

Katey said...

Aaaaawesome, Louise. And I loved that post. So hard. I shall link and commentate and stuff -- I'll give you a heads up. Thank you! <3

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