Thursday, November 3, 2011

Inspiration: Where Do Stories Come From?


As I've mentioned earlier, I'm going to re-hash bits and pieces of interviews. Eventually I'll add the most interesting ones to my FAQ. One question I've been asked many times: How did you come up with the idea for writing the book, was there anything that inspired you?

And as a matter of fact there was a very specific inspiration. But I'm afraid it's pretty boring. I'll try to keep it lively, but snoring is perfectly acceptable. I took about 100 years to earn my bachelor's degree—taking a class here and there as I could afford it and had the time while raising a fairly large family. Eventually my adviser took pity on me and said I could go ahead and graduate—except that I absolutely had to have a general ed science class, which I had very skillfully avoided up to that point.

So for the last class of my very long college career I signed up for the most interesting science course I could find, which happened to be evolution. Now I know that evolution is a controversial topic, which is exactly what interested me—I was curious to know what is fact and what is speculation. Just to be clear I'm not making any political or religious or whatever claims about evolution. So don't leave me yet.

One day the professor said something to the effect that if we were to discover another planet with life, it would most likely not be the kind of life we see on Star Trek and such—basically humanoids with green skin or pointy ears or a hundred other variations. Because of the nature of cell replication, life and the planet that contained it would either be almost exactly like ours or completely different.

That of course got my writer's brain off and wandering. I imagined two worlds that were almost identical, except for their age, with the older one discovering the newer one. The perfect recipe for life. 

But I had a problem. It might be unique to have aliens share the same DNA. But there's not a lot of conflict with that. I felt the races needed to have subtle differences to make the story interesting Fortunately, the professor had explanations for everything. When he taught us about Galapagos Island and how Darwin observed that some of the birds developed long beaks to get to the only source of food, I imagined how food would make the two races different. And the continental divide? Yeah, total room for subtle differences. The biggest "ah ha" moment for the book was when I decided that if their race had embraced neuro-magnetic energy right from the beginning of time, they might have learned how to communicate on an entirely different level. By the end of the semester I had the story mapped out in my head. And, to top it off, I got an A in the class, thus proving it is possible to daydream and still fake it on tests. Plus I get to come off sounding totally like a science geek. Seriously, right?

So ironically the class I'd put off and dreaded for a couple of decade turned out to be more beneficial than any others to my writing career. Which sounds like there ought to be a moral. Save the best for last? Don't do it until you absolutely have to? Hmm. Not too catchy. Any suggestions? Have you had a time you've put something off only to wish you'd done it sooner? 

2 comments:

  1. This is a book I would read!! Can't wait for it to come out :) Keep us posted.

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  2. Thanks Jessica! So happy to hear it sounds good to you - the release date is Jan. 1, but I'm kind of hoping to have the ebook available by Christmas. For sure I'll be posting the progress!

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