The Author

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About the Author

Giving Thanks

Spells and Software

What's up with the Teapot?

The Nature of Inspiration

Degrees of Creativity

Contact John

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Talt Tales and Magical Misadventures

 

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The Nature of Inspiration

Inspiration. It comes in many forms and touches every piece of fiction a writer creates. Yet, it somehow remains one of the most challenging concepts for writers to explain. What could possibly drive a writer to translate scenes that exist only in the mind so that others may share in that creative vision?

For me, there is no single element that sends my mind racing and my fingers flurrying. Instead it's a combination of different ingredients coming together at the right time and in the right way. Smells and songs, movies and myths, people and places, tastes and tales... each day is filled with a wealth of experiences to think about and question. And when one question leads to another is often when I become driven to write a story. I want to know what will happen next and how it will happen; and because the story exists only in my imagination to start with, I have to get it out on paper so that I can read it.

What becomes interesting to me along the way is how Mother Nature provides inspiration for fantasy stories, and how by using elements from the natural world, you can weave together something that is not only exciting but also plausible. Two of my favorite projects where this happened were my two published stories: Mother Knows Best and A Time to Croak.

With Mother Knows Best, I was initially inspired by our country's obsession with recapturing youth. The aging process (at least for now) is part of the natural order for human beings, and although the myths of mankind have long since looked for a fountain of youth, one has yet to be found. So with that spark, I pitted the old witch verses the young girl in a tale of one antagonist’s struggle to conquer the natural order and reclaim what she had lost.

But the natural inspirations for that story didn’t end just with that idea. Take for example when Lavender comments that Phoenix is no longer yellow because he’s eaten too many fireberries. In the real world, eating excessive amounts of beta-carotene can cause a person’s skin to turn orange. When the witch needs to use Lavender’s hair to make the brew that will allow her to take over the young girl’s body, I was thinking about how DNA information is contained within hair. And the slime eel that Lavender brings home at the end of the story is commonly known by the name of Hagfish, which seemed like a perfect way to refer to the monstrous outcome of the hag’s evil ways.

In A Time to Croak, a natural inspiration played a more central role in the plot itself. I read an article in a reputable science magazine about how frogs began mysteriously exploding in a little town in Germany, and (pardon the pun) I was blown away by the possibilities. It was the stuff of fantasy, but at the same time, real life. I immediately wanted to know what would happen if the same thing occurred in the fantasy realm of Ratrilpot. Who would get blamed and how could the mystery be solved if there were no scientists involved? My desire for answers to these questions led me to write Lavender Pie’s quest for exoneration when blamed for the exploding frogs and so that she could (again pardon the pun) avoid croaking.

And although there are many other examples in my fiction where the natural world plays a part, I think these two stories sum up my point quite well. Mother Nature may not be the only form of inspiration for my writing, but she’s one that always leads to fantastical results.

Until next time... Happy Reading!