What Inspires an Author to Write
Where do authors get their ideas? Does a great master author hand them an idea on a silver platter? Is there a crystal ball they can consult? Do ideas come in a dream after eating too many hot chilies before bed? Maybe there an App!
Ideas come to authors because they have brains that work differently from everybody else. There’s no magic and nothing special has to happen. They can be inspiration by pretty much anything. The rest of the world can see the same thing and go “Yea, so what?” But to an author, something latches on as a possible novel idea and won’t let go.
It haunts and teases, “Here I am. A brilliant idea. What are you going to do with me?”
The author responds, “I don’t know. What have you in mine?”
Idea just laughs. It knows, but won’t tell. It lingers in the secret parts of the brain waiting to pounce at the most unexpected moments.
One such moment happened to fantasy author Neil Gaiman and Stardust.
One day while Nail was driving in the countryside he saw a stonewall with a hole in it. He thought of a faerie hiding behind the wall. The idea lingered, but didn’t solidify. Until one night when he saw a falling star.
How many falling stars have you seen, thought, “How cool,” and moved on?
But this particular falling star didn’t just streak across the sky, it streaked across Neil Gamin’s imagination and the plot for Stardust leaped into his head. It was first a comic book, then novel and finally a major motion picture—one of my favorite movies.
For me, the idea that inspired my science fiction novel, Pegasus Colony, was the Minnesota weather.
And you say, “Yea, I live through fridged weathers every year. So what? It never inspired me to write a novel.”
The difference for me is, I have the mind of an author, but more importantly, I’m originally from southern Louisiana. Weathers there are quite a bit different. Therefore winters in Minnesota were new to me.
I lived 68 miles due north from the Gulf of Mexico. In wintertime, it rains and rains and oh yes, it rains. In February, it snows once every ten years. Summer begins in the middle of June and continues until the middle of October. It’s hot and humid well in to the high 90s F pretty much every day.
When it reaches 100 F, it rains. You think the rain will cool everything off, but no. When it rains, it rains all day long. Then the hot summer sun comes out and bakes the moisture. It feels like you’re in an over. Even though you just stepped out of the shower, you feel like you haven’t taken a shower in three weeks.
It snows in February once every 10 years.
Children learn to plan in the environment they grow up in. So yes, we outside in the heat and humidity. We played chase, softball and road out bikes, all without breaking a sweat.
I didn’t learn to sweat until I moved to Minnesota. Where winter lasts from November to March. Sometimes it’ll snow all the way into May. Sometimes summer doesn’t kick in until the middle of June.
Then summer days are mostly in the 80s F. The weather man counts the number of days it reaches 90 F and compares it to last year.
It’s cold, cool and comfortable most of the time, but for the few days it does get into the 90s and its humid, and I sweat with the best of them.
In my mind, my first winter in Minnesota, was 30 below zero with wind chill of 60 below for a full month. I’m sure it was only for two weeks, but that first winter was most impressive.
Every February, Minnesotans celebrate winter with a Winter Carnival.
For my first Winter Carnival it was -30 F with a wind chill of -60 F. In the evening there was to be a parade.
I thought, “Those poor people. They’ll have to cancel the parade.”
I was wrong.
My boyfriend called and said, “Let’s go.”
I said, “You got to be joking.”
“No,” he said, “you just gotta dress for it.”
So I put on my long johns, pulled on my wool socks, zipped up my one-piece winter suit, pulled my hood over my winter hat, put my heavy boots and thick gloves on, and we set out.
I’ve acclimatized since then. I no longer have that winter suit or heavy boots and thick gloves. I’ve learned to play outdoors in the winter. I’ve gone cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and have even canoed down the Mississippi River on New Year’s Day.
I remember one winter where after two weeks the high was 5 below zero. Just after that stretch of cold weather, I was at work and had been outside. I was on my way upstairs and as I passed the lounge area someone asked me, “What’s it like out there?”
“It’s 26 and sunny,” I said. “It’s nice.”
“Wow,” he said, “that is nice,”
I kept walking, but in my mind, I came to a complete halt. I remember thinking, “What did I just say?” I’m from southern Louisiana. We invented humanity and shipped it out the rest of the country and I think 26° is nice? Boy have I changed.
My next thought was, “What if there was world that was so cold that 26° was summertime?”
And that was the beginning of People of Akiane Trilogy.
The planet Akiane a world so cold that expect for a small stretch of water along the equator, surface waters of the ocean freezes around the world. There’s only one colony on this planet and they live in a habitat. Winter lasts for six years.
Start the journey with Pegasus Colony on the planet Akiane in the Pegasus Constellation and see what winter is like in the mind of an author.
Then continue the journey with Storm’s Coming.
When inspiration hits you, don’t throw it away or think that’s a stupid idea. Nurture it and see where it takes you.
Let me know what strange thing or things have tickled your imagination.