I have joined the WriYe Blogging Circle for 2013 in order to blog more frequently. Every month all of us in the Blogging Circle are asked to write on a particular topic. Here is the topic for January:
Where do you get your initial spark of inspiration? Is it from anything important? What else about inspiration intrigues you? What is your advice to other people to kick start their inspiration?
Good question! I often get my inspirations from books that I read, especially histories and biographies. I like to imagine what might have happened to the world and to ordinary people had some historical event turned out differently. In the trilogy of alternate histories that I am writing, I take inspiration from Sir Charles Petrie’s « If: A Jacobite Fantasy », but am not slavishly bound to it. I think that if there were a Stuart on the British throne, there would have been no expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 and no French and Indian War, with Quebec and Louisiana therefore remaining part of the French Empire. Following Petrie, I have decided that there would have been no American Revolution as well. However, if one has Louis XV of France die over a dozen years before he actually did and have his son succeed him to reign until 1789 (our timeline’s Louis XVI was Louis XV’s grandson), then possibly the French Revolution might have been averted for another century or so and become far less bloody and epoch-making.
I also receive inspiration from my family history (my father’s ancestors were Acadian and Quebecois, and those peoples often play at least a peripheral role in my fiction), suggestions from my friends and heavily disguised aspects of my own life.
How does inspiration intrigue me? That is a hard question to answer. I see it as a tool to guide me, and that I should guide as well. I see it as something that should be kept under the control of historical and psychological plausibility. I cannot let it run away with me too much, or else it would not be a realistic-seeming alternate historical novel, whether I focus on major political and social figures or on more ordinary people.
What is my advice to others to get their inspiration going? Research! Find out about the era or milieu that you are writing about, as well as peripheral matters that might not play a direct role in your story, but will help to make the world you create seem more realistic. Research is like an iceberg: only a small fraction of what you researched should appear in the finished novel. Fortunately for me, I enjoy researching, both in books and online. If you need help to begin your research, ask a reference librarian at a large public or university library to show you the way. Look at the bibliographies of the books and articles that you read as research for your novel. If any books or articles in the bibliographies intrigue you, strive to obtain them! And most of all, have fun!