Wednesday, 20 February 2013

In the Mood - The Inspiration Files

Authors are frequently asked, 'Where do you get your ideas?' And 'What inspires you?' 

In the case of ideas, the answer is probably 'everywhere'. Often I don't have a specific point where an idea comes -- small snippets quietly lock together -- a thought that has not fitted anywhere will suddenly slot into something else.  And also there's the influence of the characters -- they shape the story in the way that they want it to go. Research too can point you in the correct direction. 

Inspiration is slightly different.  I've been thinking about this in relation to the launch of Out of Sight Out of Mind.  I know I'll have to talk a lot about the book in the coming weeks.  And when talking about it, I know  that the question about inspiration will occur. It's not an easy one to answer.  A lot of things 'inspire' me, but they are not always obvious and they don't necessarily feed directly into the story.  What they give me is a moment, a feeling, an atmosphere.  Romantic thrillers are all about evoking emotions -- emotions at the extremes of human experience -- fear and love.

So the atmosphere of a book is important to me. It is something that puts me in the place where the book is -- and that place could be a matter of geography, but it can also be an emotional location -- a feeling, a memory.  On impulse I made a list, (I love lists!) and I came up with quite a number of things that you could say 'inspire' me.  Some of these are tangible -- particular places and buildings and events.  Others are things that are traditionally viewed as inspiring -- art, music, literature. Some are what I would class as 'edgy' -- quick flashes of ... something ... the appeal of lights in the darkness, the sound of bells, crossing borders and Rubicons, time and certain hours of the day -- things that provoke an emotional response, that may not always be easily explained.  Looking at the list, I realised there are some interesting things there -- things that I'd like to explore further, on the blog.  So there you have it -- an intermittent series of future posts -- The Inspiration Files.  I hope you will find them as interesting as I do.


  1. In Dorothea Brande's 'Becoming a Writer' she talks about seeking inspirational influences which set off 'the internal hum'. I rather liked that description because it comes close to how I feel when something sets off an idea - a certain frisson that makes me think I could do something with it. I'm interested especially in what you call that 'quick flash of something'and I'm looking forwards to reading about what sets off your internal hum!

    1. Hi Chris
      I've not read Dorothea Brande - I must look her up. I've not thought of it as a hum - it's a frisson, as you say, and sometimes it doesn't really make sense, or lead anywhere, just adds to atmosphere. Writers are curious people :)

  2. I will look forward to The Inspiration Files, Evonne. I have Out of Sight, Out of Mind on my reading list :-)

  3. Hi Sue - Hope you enjoy OSOM, when you get to it!