Inspiration: That First Spark of an Idea

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?

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Author: Theresa Crater

Award-winning author Theresa Crater brings ancient temples, lost civilizations and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. In The Star Family, a Gothic mansion holds a secret spiritual group and a 400-year-old ritual that must be completed to save the day. The shadow government search for ancient Atlantean weapons in the fabled Hall of Records in Under the Stone Paw and fight to control ancient crystals sunk beneath the sea in Beneath the Hallowed Hill. Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The most recent include “The Judgment of Osiris” and “Bringing the Waters.” Theresa has also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver.

11 thoughts on “Inspiration: That First Spark of an Idea”

  1. Usually, the stories I write are inspired by a random news story, asking “what if?” or something that has happened to my kids (in the case of the middle-grade fiction). But the “thing” often sits in the back of my mind for a long time before the I know what the story is.

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  2. I’m blown away by your history and the lesson in Khm. How wonderful. Where writers find stories always fascinates me. Writers seem to have a mindset of seeing and hearing common events and framing them in an entirely new way. My stories start with a little naggy kernel that won’t let go, and then it grows, and grows, and….well, you get the idea.

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  3. My stories start with a nugget, too, but I only continue noodling the ones that won’t let me go. There has to be some very special and personal angle to it.

    It’s interesting when someone else thinks I ought to write one of his/her ideas, but if it doesn’t move me in that special way, there is no inspiration to write it, no matter how interesting an idea it may be.

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