Thursday, February 12, 2009

Inspiration....


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?

14 comments:

Charlotte Featherstone said...

What a great post, and Richard Armitage! ACK!!! You know how much I love him!!! Seriously love him.

So, inspiration. I'm inspired by many things, and sometimes when I hear something, or see something, it can be the smallest thing and then BAM! I'm inspired.

I'm thinking back to one of my first small press releases, Mistress of the Night. The hero, Blaine is an epileptic. He was most definitely inspired by an event at work, in which a patient I had in labour had an eclamptic seizure while pushing. The baby was out to the brow, and all hell broke loose. The babe was trapped for close to ten minutes, the mother was seizing and we couldn't stop it. the good news is, we saved both mom and babe, and there is no residual effects for either. The bad news, that even 25yrs ago, the outcome for both might not have been what it was. That made me think to what could have happened back in the regency, victorian era. It made me think how damn frightening seizures are to witness, imagine what it was like for the people centuries ago who still thought of medicine and illness as acts of God, and not science. Thus, the exploration of epilepsy in Regency England fueled Mistress of the Night.

In my current historical that I'm writing, Sinful (Lord Wallingford's book) I've been inspired by a few things. One of the things is the modern woman, and the evolution of her. Jane, the heroine is a nurse, she's struggling for independence, she's part of the Women's Sufferage movement, yet she struggles with her love and desire for a man who is considered nothing short of 'a woman hater'. She wears many hats, struggling to be a professional, yet drawn to the feelings and desire of being a woman. Back then, it must have been a confusing time for women like that. Today, we balance both worlds, and most men accept that, and us. But back then....it was a whole new frightening world. I've also been inspired in this work by a quote from Anais Nin. This quote describes both the hero and heroine so well. The quote has driven the plot and the evolution of both character journey's. And it is..."And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
The other inspiration for Sinful, is Rodin's lovely erotic works. Wallingford is an artist, and I've used Rodin's pieces as a framework for Wallingford's interests, although I've had to modified it since Rodin comes after Wallingford's era.

Interestingly, Addicted was inspired by nothing. The plot, characters just came to me one day. It was weird, right out of the blue. But, while writing, I listening to the gorgeous soundtrack from Pride and Prejudice. The composer's name escapes me at the moment, but it's the soundtack from the P&P movie with Kiera Knightly. That soundtrack is so stunning in its emotional intensity.
I'm also listening to it for Sinful.

Great post, Kristina.

Victoria Janssen said...

Inspiration, for me, comes from everything and nothing. I'm a big believer in my "backbrain" and letting things mingle in my subconscious. I have been inspired by opposition, though--reading a story or book that does one thing, and deciding to see what happens if I take the opposite tack.

RCS Lower School Library Committee said...

Charlotte, the composer is Dario Marianelli, and he's one of my *favorites*. He also did the soundtrack for Atonement, and featured the same pianist on both albums. Two of my favorite albums to write to!

Genella deGrey said...

I wish I had a vehicle of inspiration.

My ideas hit me in the STRANGEST places!

:)
G.

ranearia said...

*eyes zoom in on Richard Armitage*

*happy sigh* *ahem*

When it comes to my artwork mostly my webcomic inspiration comes from everyday things from shopping to just talking with friends add alot of humor and tada!
My artwork usually comes from some passing thought or even a color I think it very pretty

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Ranearia, do you have a link for us to have a peek at your work?

Amanda McIntyre said...

I second that request to see your website, Raneria! You have some lovely insights to life!

Amanda

Amanda McIntyre said...

Inspiration...like Kristi, I find my inspiration in the many areas--oftentimes a song or part of one. Much of the time, it's in my research. Surfing through history looking for the obscure and lesser known, both people and topics.

Thats how I stumbled upon the white slave trade of Victorian England and eventually created a young orphan teen who grows up learning how to survive best as she can in a facade that preached straight-lace morals, when in reality real life was most scandelous!
Cozette's song, as it were, is "Good Enough" by Evanescence. you can hear it at www.myspace.com/amandamcintyre

It is the perfect blend of innocence and sensuality that is the character of Cozette when she has a man of substance first pay attention to her.

But life is funny sometimes, taking away and giving the unexpected. Cozettes journey to womanhood is a story that I had to write, if for no other reason to the memory of all the young girls who disappeared, sold off by their families and were never heard from again.

You may have noted by our Wicked Wednesday fun that pics play a big part of inspiration. I am a visual person, so it helps me to "see" a character--the gleam in his eye, the way her hair lays on her shoulder, the barely there smile upon his lips--the nuances I guess tend to inspire me more almost than the obvious!

The guy may be ripped beyond comprehension, human eye candy in it's most flavorful, tantalizing form--but in MY eyes, he has to have that subtle attribute that endears him to me-maybe a scar above the brow, a tattoo (Char's weakness), eyes that look right through to your soul, or maybe that tortured, austare man of wealth and substance.(Kristi has a few of those in her file cabinet, I think)

As an artist turned writer, I credit my art teacher with inspiring me to look beyond the obvious. To open my mind to different kinds of beauty and sensuality--that has played a big part in my writing.

I was humbled, when, at my first booksigning, that teacher came and bought my first book. I tear up even now to think on it!

The saying I have taped to my computer screen is a fav of mine from Emily Dickinson, which reads," The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience."

What terrific inspiration!

Amanda

ranearia said...

Sure!

All my artwork is worksafe ;D

http://silverbell.sheezyart.com/

http://yaoi.y-gallery.net/user/ranearia/

my crazy webcomic (lots of oddball humor)

http://kiddamikka.smackjeeves.com/

Amanda McIntyre said...

Hey Ranearia
I couldnt get into the Silverbells site but I checked out the others and you have real talent!
My favs assuming these are your artwork;)
Smile Pretty, Vergil in the Rain, and my most fav, V for Vendetta--one of my fav movies!!

Thank you for sharing and all the best with your artwork!

Do you have plans to publish? This type of storytelling --the manga books are huge right now!

Amanda

Barbara said...

Wonderful post. First I must say, North & South--loved it!! Ugh, Richard was just so handsome.

There is the one scene where he comes home and is untying his cravat while talking to his mother, and it was enough to make me break a sweat! Just that teeny bit of skin showing was more than enough! I suppose it's because he was so tense the whole movie, to see him loosen up was very sexy.

Inspiration...Although I'll likely never finish my story, I did actually get inspired to start writing from Air Supply's, Making Love Out Of Nothing At All. So, I guess you can say music is a big inspiration for me :)

Kristina Cook/Kristi Astor said...

Oooh, Making Love Out of Nothing at All is on my iTunes playlist! I love that song!

ranearia said...

Thank you very much Amanda! :D
I haven't given it much thought to publish any of my works. Most are just thoughts in my head I just wanna get down.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

raneaira, you have a REAL talent. You should think of pursing publication!

thanks for sharing!