Friday, August 25, 2006

What Inpires Me?

“Where do you get your ideas?”
Writers hear that a lot. It’s not something that’s easy to answer. Actually, my favorite response to that question came from Steven Brust when he was asked about it at a science fiction convention panel. His immediate answer was, “Drugs.” I have to admit that I’ve used that flippant answer a few times myself.

The truth is, ideas come from sources to numerous to count. I will give you examples from two different stories of mine. One of them is a science fiction romance novella, IN THE DARK that I’m waiting to see published, and one is a paranormal erotica piece, (LIKE A) VIRGIN OF THE SPRING that I’m currently working on.

IN THE DARK came about because of a toddler named Zoe, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s asking me to contribute a story about a heroic vampire to an anthology. I realized that I wanted to write a science fiction story for the anthology, a vampires in space thing. Next door to me lived an adorable two year old named Zoe. I’d given her the nickname “Zoe the Fearless”, because she was an adventurous child. The whole neighborhood had to watch out for her when her parents let her outside the house, because we never knew what Zoe would get into next. I decided I wanted the heroine of my sf vampire story to be named Zoe. So, why would someone be named Zoe? I wondered. From that question about a name came the idea for the Byzant Empire, an Earth based future space empire based on the Greek Byzantine Empire. Zoe remained adventurous, and became the heir to the Byzant Empire’s throne. She became a diplomat trying to find a peaceful solution to a war with several alien groups. My vampire hero became a marine general. And the two of them ended up as prisoners of war in an underground pow camp. I love the world and characters so much that someday I intend to turn this novella into not one, but two novels. All because of a kid named Zoe.

(LIKE A) VIRGIN OF THE SPRING is a work in progress. It’s an idea I’ve had for a couple of years, but hadn’t necessarily meant to write as an erotic piece. But it always had the potential to be hot, because it starts during a fertility festival in post-Roman Britain. The idea came about because back in 2004 a couple of friends and I took a trip to England and spent a week running around the southern part of the country. We visited a lot of ancient sites, many of them with Roman and Arthurian connections, and also saw a whole lot of sacred springs such as the ones at Bath and Glastonbury and St. Winifred’s shrine in Wales. Now, I’ve never been interested in writing a story about King Arthur, although I love reading (and being highly critical of most) Arthurian literature. Then I visited Chedworth, which is the site of a Roman villa. Chedworth is also the site of a spring, and while I was there the idea for a time travel story popped into my head. And this time travel story had an Arthurian theme. I was half-horrified at the audacity of me writing on The Matter of Britain and really didn’t think I’d ever get around to writing it. But, here I am working on it two years later.

And I better get back to it now, because it’s due at the end of the month.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes ideas for stories come to me spontaneously, usually inspired by the wish to emulate work I admire, but with my own twist. Other times, I'm trying to create a story for an anthology or other themed venue and go deliberately searching for snippets of information and lore that might suggest a plot premise. Stephen King (in MISERY) makes a distinction roughly along that line, between "having an idea" and "getting an idea."