I particularly enjoyed reading the responses to this week's Author Nook Q on how our WIPs inspire us. The answers danced between working through problems to an individual character to a specific world event or finding meaning amongst chaos. Some authors mentioned ethics and morals while others were interested in exploring how people (i.e. characters) change. One author was passing down generational stories. Others find inspiration in writing the stories they always wanted to read.
I chose four authors from that discussion to share how their WIPs inspire them. Authors are not chosen because one response was better than another but are chosen for many reasons. Mainly I decide with the bigger picture in mind of how to best represent divergent approaches to the craft of writing and our individual genres.
This week’s author responses range from finding inspiration in certain characters who speak to us, in an idea about the infinite, in the worlds we create, and in friendships.
What I learned from reading all of your responses is that this process isn’t us authors in total control. It seems so many of us allow ourselves to be inspired from the story. The story speaks to us. I hope you enjoy these thoughts from fellow writers and the stories that inspire them...
My characters are independent beings that exist and run amuck in my head. I wake up, they tease me with potential futures; the intimate, the violent. I go to my day job and the demon whispers in my ear, demanding my attention, and I wonder which of us really pulls the strings. I go to bed, my characters are bickering with each other. And I can’t look away. I could go into detail about the inspiration behind Ruby and Drayvex, where I think the thousands of pieces that make up their whole came from. The truth is, though, that they inspire me on a daily basis. Some days I’m simply the scribe, barely writing fast enough to keep up with the duo in my head. Others, I’m shouting into a void and getting my own echo. But whether it feels effortless or like pulling teeth, the need to write always wins out. I will always show up, and I just know that these two crazy kids will own my heart long after I write their last words.
Rachel Hobbs’ debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She's since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her. Her second novel SOUL-STRUNG is available later this year. Find Rachel on Goodreads and Bookbub.
Philosophical traditions in my WIP The Isle of a Thousand Worlds are informed by my yoga and meditation experience, but what I write has also changed the way I practice, inspiring me to go beyond the personal toward the universal. This passage gives a sense for how:
It is said that the mind is a world of its own, but this is only partly true. It is linked by delicate tendrils and hempen rope and copper cables to a thousand other minds in a thousand different worlds, just as each star is but a small part of a greater galaxy. We see the constellations in the night sky as bright images on dark paper, and we interpret them as shapes that tell us stories, and this helps us smile as we fall asleep. But these flat shapes are illusions, flecks of a light so bright we cannot look directly into it, filtered by a blackness we perceive as a void. The underlying light and darkness, and every shade of the planets between, are not flat, or spherical, but infinite, if we can only learn how to see without looking.
So it is with the self. We do not exist as discrete individuals, alone and separate from all others. We are parts of a greater whole, which we do not have the natural faculties to perceive. To know the true shapes of things beyond our imagining, we must let go of our fear and sink deep inside ourselves, to the dark places between our thoughts and memories, our pain and our sorrow. It is in these liminal spaces that we find the ultimate connections to all beings and all worlds.
To find the Thousand Worlds, we must seek within as without, and in so doing we will see the universe reflected inside us, and ourselves shining down from the heavens.
Dan Fitzgerald is the fantasy author of the Maer Cycle trilogy (character-driven low-magic fantasy) and the upcoming Weirdwater Confluence duology (sword-free fantasy with unusual love stories). The Living Waters comes out October 15, 2021 and The Isle of a Thousand Worlds arrives January 15, 2022, both from Shadow Spark Publishing.
He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When not writing he might be found doing yoga, gardening, cooking, or listening to French music. Find Dan on Twitter and at danfitzwrites.com.
Izabela Raittila (Iza)
I've been making up stories ever since I can remember, but very few of them got written down. Last February during the first lockdown in Finland I read Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion'. This inspired me to write my stories and create a fictional universe known as the Gragiyan Empire. Most of the characters are inspired by figures from various myths and legends. For example, my villain Lord Makar is based on Hades from Greek mythology.
My story is dark. It's set in a world that brings out the worst in people. Everyone needs to be a villain at times in order to survive, even the main characters. Betrayal is common, and true friends are rare. That's what makes Ash and Panthea's friendship, their pure and undying love for each other, so special to me. It's a reminder that once you have that one special person in your life, you can allow yourself to
be brave, to weather every storm, to face the toughest of foes. Because you know that at the end of the day, you have someone to mend your emotional wounds; a refuge. I have been lucky to have found that someone in my life. And, although not done intentionally, the dynamic between Ash and Panthea sometimes reminds me of my own relationship with my fiancée.
H. Ferry is a fantasy writer, software engineer, and digital artist. That means you can usually find him in his office, writing, designing virtual people, or cooking up code that will automate part of his life so he can focus on "more important things". Find H. Ferry on Twitter and ferryfiction.com.