Thursday, February 12, 2009
People often ask me what "inspires" my books, and the simple answer is, "Lots of stuff!". In my debut novel, UNLACED, I was thinking about my little sister, who is an equestrian and what I call a "horse person." She's entirely comfortable with the beasts (she owns and shows two paint horses, one of which is blind now but still wins ribbons!). She's a biologist, not a veterinarian, but she's entirely comfortable handling and helping injured animals. It just comes natural to her. When we were kids, and a pet gerbil would die, I'd be the kid running up to my room crying, unable to look at the poor animal. My sister would be the one calmly holding the suffering animal, trying to comfort it in its final moments. So...I wondered how a girl like this would fare in Regency England. And then I pushed it a step forward--what if her 'dream' was to somehow practice veterinary medicine, even if informally. With that idea, Lucy Abbington was born. Obviously she wouldn't be allowed to actually study 'veterinary arts' (though there was a Veterinary Arts college in London during the period), but it was interesting nonetheless to make her wish she could! And then I threw in a hero who was a horse lover himself--a man who would appreciate her talents, yet (because of his upbringing--he was a marquess, after all!) think they made her wholly inappropriate for him.
Other times, I've been inspired by a movie or a TV show. My newest release, the novella Swept Away, was definitely inspired by the BBC miniseries North & South (with the super yummy Richard Armitage--see pic above!). I took a similar set-up--a well-bred heroine from the genteel south of England paired with a common-born hero from the industrial north. I think the similarities mostly end there, plot-wise, though the themes are similar. North & South was set in Victorian England, but the set-up works just as well during the Edwardian era, particularly as England was on the verge of ‘modern times,’ which did not favor the ‘old ways’ of the aristocracy. So, for my own story, the hero, John Leyden, represented the coming 'modernism' while the heroine, Christobel Smyth, represented the 'old ways' that were coming to an end. Christobel had to learn to live in John's world.
And occasionally I'm inspired by a song, or even a particular line in a song. Beethoven's hauntingly beautiful Midnight Serenade particularly inspired my book TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL. I listened to it over and over again as I wrote that book, and even gave the song a 'part' in the book itself (the heroine, Eleanor Ashton, plays the song for the hero, Frederick Stoneham--and at the end of the novel, he plays it for her). Other times a song can simply inspire a scene or even a line in a book. I can't remember the specifics, but I remember once hearing a Rick Springfield song on the radio and being struck by one particular (albeit cheesy!) line about a man being stripped bare of his defenses. I used that theme in a particular scene in TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL (Rick Springfield in Regency England?! Go figure!).
So....those of you who write or paint or journal....or do anything artistic....what inspires you? Any specific stories to share?
Posted by Kristi Cook at 8:33 AM