Inspirations's Where You Find It
One of my fabulous critique partners inherited a roomful (and then some) of antique dolls. To her late mother, the collection represented beloved old friends and a lifetime passion. To her daughter, they represented bittersweet memories, as well as a logistical problem, since finding space for a relative's treasured possessions is never easy, even when they don't number in the hundreds.
To me, that crowded room represented something else entirely: the macabre inspiration for my latest book, PHANTOM OF THE FRENCH QUARTER, whose villain was, as a child growing up...
How 'bout if I just let you see for yourselves from this brief excerpt?
His grandmother had collected doll babies by the hundreds, which his mother arranged on shelves around a single room, where he’d slept as a boy.
How he’d hated those damned dolls, staring at him through the days and nights. How he’d pleaded with his mother to box them up, to let him put up his sports pennants and his plastic model racecars — the kinds of decorations he wouldn’t have to hide from other guys.
Year after year, she had stubbornly refused, saying it would be disrespectful of Grandmama’s memory, hiding them all away, and the narrow bungalow — a damned shack, really — was far too small to put them elsewhere.
“Then keep them in your room,” he had at first demanded and then pleaded, tears streaking down his red face.
But they both knew that she wouldn’t, that the men who visited her at night could never do their business with all those glass eyes staring.
And after while, it was all right. The boy began to like them anyway.
Which just goes to show you that when it comes to life, as well as writing, it really is all about perspective. When you look at a staring doll, a grinning clown, a running dog, or a forest laced in shadow, do you smile or do you shiver? Does your mind leap back to a fond memory or a disturbing moment?
Can you find a way to harness raw emotion, to suffuse your words with its essence? Can you exaggerate, twist, and tweak (or seriously warp, if your mind works the way mine does) to bring a character to life?
Question for the week: What's been your most unusual real-life inspiration and how did you use it in your writing?