A common question that authors are asked (and I'm guilty of asking this myself) is 'who are your inspirations?' I suppose this question is a staple part of an interview with an author. Nevertheless, I thought I'd share with you my personal inspirations.
1. Friends & Family
The novel that I am currently looking to publish, 'Heartbound', is a story of friendship with a paranormal twist. At the time of writing 'Heartbound', I was in a bad way; I had recently been through a trauma (which I'd rather keep private at this time) and found it hard to move forward from it. My friends and family were very supportive at this particular time; I dare say without them, I don't know where I'd be.
Writing 'Heartbound' was my way of coping after the event, but it was also my way of thanking my friends and family for their help. The issues faced by my main character are very similar to what I experienced and he also has his friends and family for support.
Away from 'Heartbound', my friends and family have always backed me and believed in me. Throughout my short writing journey, I have had to cope with several agents and publishers refusing my work which, as I'm sure you can understand, really got me down. But, with their support, I found the strength to keep going and find the belief I badly needed.
2. Stephen King
Recognized as one of the most gifted and famous authors of all time, Stephen King is one of my main inspirations. Over the course of his career, King has won countless awards and has had some of his work adapted for the big screen. It is little wonder that so many people look up to King as their idol.
For me, it is King's style that makes him stand out. He has a unique ability to create the most complex characters and the most dynamic of settings. Take 'The Shining' for example; the way he builds up the foreboding backdrop of The Overlook Hotel and the Torrance's isolation sent cold shivers down my spine the first time I read this novel, and the sinister transformation of Jack Torrance is the stuff of nightmares.
What is also impressive about Stephen King is the longevity of his career. Ever since the 1970s, he has been astounding readers all over the world and is still inventing new worlds and characters today. His latest works, 'Doctor Sleep' and 'Mr Mercedes', are both up there with the classic 'Carrie' and 'The Shining'.
Stephen King truly is a master of the written word.
Image from: "Pinguino" ("Pinguino's" flickraccount) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3. Within Temptation
Image courtesy of Kat Barker (~AccidentAndEmergency @ deviantArt)[CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation are a band going from strength to strength. Their 2014 release, 'Hydra', builds on their earlier successes and is typical of the style of music Within Temptation produce. I am a huge fan of this band, and their music has inspired me in my writing.
The main reason that Within Temptation are one of my inspirations is their versatility. Each album contains a mix of ballads and edgier tracks, yet both are brilliantly created. Lead singer Sharon den Adel is comfortable singing fast tempo anthems or mellow tear-jerkers and it is this emotion that I have tried to incorporate into my own writing.
There are a number of Within Temptation's songs that particularly inspire me, but I'll narrow them down to three:
- 'And We Run'. The third track from 'Hydra', 'And We Run' combines the powerful voice of Sharon den Adel and the lyrical genius of rapper Xzibit. One of the song's most important messages is to never give up and to keep going. As Xzibit himself says in the track, 'we've gotta keep going'.
- 'What Have You Done?' Taken from their hugely successful 'The Heart of Everything', this track is one of the more haunting tracks in Within Temptation's discography. With the voice of Keith Caputo, 'What Have You Done' is memorable for its message of heartbreak and loss.
- 'Our Farewell'. I quoted part of this song on a recent 'Quote of the Day'. This song always manages to bring a lump to my throat. The lyrics of this song are moving and emotional, something that I believe make a great story. Like 'And We Run', I try to apply the same emotion to my novels.
Well, those are my three inspirations. Each of the above inspire me for different reasons, yet they are all important to me and each keep me going along the road to publication.
Deciding on writing a new book can be hard work. What genre should I write? Should it be 1st person or 3rd person? Young Adult or contemporary fiction? So imagine deciding on a writing a SERIES! Well, that is my new writing project, and I am relishing the challenge.
First things first, I should state that I normally write novels around 70 000 words or so. This series, however, will be slightly different; instead of one long story, I will be writing a number of shorter ones (though I'm still deciding how many), each around 40 000 words and in my favourite YA fantasy.
You might be wondering how I went from 70 000 words with my last novel to 40 000. The answer is my university degree sometimes does not afford me much time to dedicate to writing, especially a novel, so I decided to give myself a much smaller and manageable word target. Furthermore, I am looking forward to writing a series and the challenges it will bring.
It is still early days, but with the amount of planning going into them, I have a feeling this series could be my best work yet. Watch this space!
That is a very good question! Generally I write YA fantasy, usually with dragons or a dystopia setting, but I have also written a paranormal thriller and blog articles. Have a look at the examples below and I welcome any comments or feedback that you might have.
'Heartbound' - a paranormal novel about the eternal bond of friendship