Where do stories come from? Some people roll their eyes when you talk about this. These people are inundated with ideas while others wait patiently for the next book to appear. I have on several occasions heard something that is so peculiar, that it begs for a story. A student will state some quirky fact or say something funny, and a plot pops into my head. But oddly enough, I’ve never actually written those stories. I still might, though.
My very first novel came from a desire to understand what had happened in a meditation group I was a part of. How did it go from being a place to grow and explore into being repressive? I didn’t realize that Doris Lessing had written the same story about a political group, but I still needed to write it out in order to understand. Is it a good novel? It has its moments and I learned a lot.
The second and third ones were inspired by stories I heard from my new partner. Stephen is an Egyptologist, or he’d say a Khemitologist. His specialty is predynastic Egypt, back when it was the Black Land (Khm). He studied with Hakim Ab’del Awyan, what they call a Keeper of the Keys in Egypt today, someone versed in very old folk wisdom. These folks tell a different story than traditional Egyptologists. Egyptology really began with the Greeks, but then was rejuvenated by Napoleon. The Greeks conquered Egypt, and you know how that goes. The conquerors aren’t always told the whole truth.
I went to several conferences with him and was introduced to the alternative history crowd, who fascinated me with their odd mixes of plausible speculation and downright wild ideas. Then I got to go on tours of Egypt, then England and Scotland. Those experiences led me to my next two novels, Under the Stone Paw and Beneath the Hallowed Hill.
The fourth came from learning that my ancestors were mystics in the 18th century. That they taught sacred sexuality and women had more power and respect than most anywhere else in that time. We even created the first women’s college in the U.S., Salem College. I had to know more, so again research was the basis of my novel. I guess this is a combination of trying to understand and finding a delightful new way to see the world.
As you can see, research can be a big part of writing any book.
For me, inspiration for a new project can come from:
1. Hearing about an odd fact or situation
2. Needing to understand an event in my own life
3. Learning about new research
4. Hearing about new ways to interpret the world
What else? What inspires your stories? What kind of stories are you attracted to reading?