Where Do Stories Come From?

Inspiration can strike at the most inconvenient of times. For anyone who’s ever sat down and thought ‘I want to write a story’, they’ll know that finding that first spark can be hard. Often, a lot of time is needed for that glistening of a story to emerge, yet more time for it to heat to an ember and once you start writing, and only then, are the story threads brought to life. Luckily, I’ve never been a situation where I’m sat at a blank screen with no idea what to write. I may not know how to start or, indeed, where’ll I’ll finish, but there’s normally a thread of an idea somewhere that’s been jotted down on a scrap piece of paper or stowed away in my iPhone’s ‘Notes’ app.

Having finished To Kill A Curse, I’m starting to think about what’s next. Actually, I know what’s next; a couple of freebie short prequel stories about the CRYO podmates and then the next CRYO – title TBC. But, if my mind wasn’t already filled with too many thoughts, I had another idea the other day.

I was reading THIS article and listening to the music below. The article talked about Boeing and SpaceX had teamed with NASA so that America can once again send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US instead of having to rely on other nations.

It got me thinking, once again, about going into space. You know; Virgin Galactic is only around the corner. I got excited and enthused, before painfully realising that it was going to be vastly expensive and I’ll have to save like crazy if I ever want to experience a low Earth orbit. Then I began to think about what would happen if a married couple were faced with a decision; they have to leave Earth for some reason, but they only have enough money for ONE ticket. Who would go? What if it was someone like me, who’s always craved going to space but is desperately in love with their partner? What if they decided that one of them had to go; that they couldn’t both die in peril…how would the guilt of the survivor play out?

With all these questions spinning around in my head, I’ve now got another science fiction novel webbing its way together; just what I didn’t want! I’ve finally concluded Inside Evil so I can work on one series, and now it seems I might have two again.

Still, it’s interesting how the slightest thing can create that flicker of inspiration and set off a line of thought that, ultimately, creates the stories we now and love so well.

Writing inspiration and utilising Pinterest

Inspiration is a great thing, and it often comes when you’re least expecting it. Try to sit down and pull a story out of the air and, chances are, your .doc will remain blank. However, delve into the thousands of ideas, images and characters that are roaming around in your head, and you’ll more than likely find something to get those fingers tapping away.

For me, inspiration arrives in two main forms; either a huge crashing explosion of a new story idea or the subtle and gentle flow of consciousness that occurs when I write. My latest WIP, the yet un-named science fiction novel, was inspired by a enormous crane pulling down the old block of flats that I used to live in. It looked like a dinosaur, a giant beast of some sort, tearing away at the fabric of man’s creation. ‘How can I include that in Inside Evil?‘ I thought. I realised that I couldn’t fit it in, not really, and so a new work was born. A work that has grown into something quite different from that first image which was conjured into my mind all those years ago.

Could this have been the inspiration for Elrick?Aside from these very visceral images that create new WIP’s, I find that other inspiration takes a more subtle approach and I don’t even know it’s there until it releases itself into my work. As a trained zoologist and professional gardener, I surround myself with nature, creatures, bugs, plants, and this has very gently found its way into my work. I never sat down and thought ‘Right, today I’m going to include a spider in my writing.‘ However, when I was first writing Mrs Peacock’s scenes (Inside Evil) Elrick just kind of appeared. From nowhere. Today I was gardening again at a client’s and what should I find but this very cool yellow crab spider. Perhaps it, in the past, was the subtle inspiration for Elrick and the purple ink spiders that followed in The Tower of Souls.

Pinterest 

I’ve been using Pinterest for a few months now, mainly as a way to collect inspiration for gardening and home decor, but have decided it might be a good idea to share images which have helped, and continue to help, create the Inside Evil worlds, creatures, characters and stories. I’ve created a range of boards, including ‘Inspiration for Inside Evil‘, ‘Inside Evil character inspiration’ and ‘Music I listen too whilst writing‘ to draw together some insights to how I, myself, see the novels. I’m sure I’ll be adding more boards over time too, as further ideas come to me.

As a slight aside, the ‘Inside Evil character inspiration‘ board won’t have actors or actresses that I think look like Roberta, or Sam, or Martha. I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid describing characters too much in the books, as well as avoiding character imagery on the covers because I want people to make up their own minds on how they see people. Of course, I might post Martha’s pearls or Sam’s glasses, but I won’t post my thoughts on character faces. However, you will see images of people that readers have suggested – particularly the first image of Martha, who one reader imagined as looking like Felicity Montagu in Bridget Jones.

If you want to follow me, then just tap the little button below and you can peruse my boards, and even join up yourself. It’s a great way to create mood and inspiration collections whether you’re a reader, writer or dreamer.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Finding Inspiration

If you read Inside Evil, you’ll often discover that there are some instances of what I like to call ‘nature-love’. Whilst the book may be, at it’s foundation, the story of a woman trying to save her life whilst another copes with the death of her daughter, from time to time my love of nature rears it’s head. Take Elrick, the tiny spider that helps Roberta enter the mysterious world of Gathin. Or the moths that help to offer hope in the darkest of situations . Or even the changing season as the first snow descends on Ridgewood. When I write, I can’t help but to put these touches in.

Many of these elements, whether predetermined or not, are led by my love of the natural world. Away from writing, I’m a landscape gardener and horticultural copywriter. My days are spent either amongst plants and creatures or at my desk writing about plants and creatures. One of the things I’ve discovered is that inspiration often comes to me when I’m away from my desk and ensconced in my latest gardening project, whether I’m digging down on my allotment or visiting a clients garden for some maintenance work. These quiet hours, surrounded by plants and wildlife allow my mind to drift. Sentences form in my mind, and paragraphs of text develop that are put into my WIPs. They are not generally major story changes or milestones, but can often subtlety change the direction of a chapter without me really knowing.

Whilst we’ve all probably encountered writers block, where we sit down to write and nothing flows or sounds right, I find inspiration is everywhere. It’s the actual lumping oneself down in front of a monitor to type that can be the problem. It’s certainly meant that Inside Evil was published years after it was first conceived.

So my question is this…how do you find inspiration? Do you actively look for it, or does it come naturally? Does inspiration come to you as you write, or as a moment of clarity in regular life which suddenly starts your mind whirring, and your fingers desperate to get home and start tapping away?