Thursday, January 1, 2015

What I Write

I’ve been dabbling in a couple of different genres, but you’ll notice that there’s at least a dollop of fantasy in all of them. I grew up on Star Trek TV and novels, loved Ray Bradbury and Twilight Zone, so I blame these influences rather than a suspicion that I have an unbalanced mind or hate reality. It’s just very relaxing and fun to take a left turn from reality.

I also like humor, although it’s hard to define within this large group. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is a good example; also the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Universe series by Douglas Adams is another. I love puns and subtle innuendo; also outright craziness. I guess I’m like most people—various things strike me as funny, and I don’t tend to over-analyze them.

So, where do I get my ideas for stories? I’m not always sure, but usually it’s a blending of separate facts, events, or thoughts. I blame that process on my heritage—I’m Czech on my mother’s side, and they’re known for their out-of-the-box inventiveness. O Fortuna, for example, came about after day-dreaming during actual rehearsals of Carmina Burana (I’m a second soprano, so there’s a lot of time to day-dream in that work), and a conversation I had with my daughter, who was in college at the time and related some of her friends’ concerns dating-wise. I found it quite curious that girls still worry about things like their virginity in this day and age, so felt that introducing a foreign influence might make it seem more realistic. All those things somehow combined in my head and created the basis for that short story. 

The impetus behind my novella A Matter of Possession is my friend Melissa’s fault. I was upset and she told me that I should “write it out,” a sort of self-therapy. So I did. I shelved the story for a couple of years, and then came back to it, adding, subtracting, morphing—soon, it was its own creation and retained almost nothing of my earlier angst. The characters are now their own selves, not modeled on anyone I know, as is the plot and setting. In fact, I kept thinking, “Ooh! It’d be cool if---” so all kinds of random things got added. A sequel I have in mind will come from a conversation with my former auto mechanic, who was concerned with his aged mother’s hallucinations that there were people living in the walls of her home. Adding that to Possession character Teri’s penchant for picking up spirits—well, away I go! Should be a fun story to write.

A short collection of poems and other thoughts that I’m currently formatting was inspired by everything from awe to indignation, in a variety of settings and circumstances.

Basically, life inspires stories. Human behavior—or misbehavior—inspires stories. It’s been said that writers never have bad experiences, just opportunities for good material (!). I know from chatting with other authors that many villains are modeled on their exes. I know you suspected this, but it’s true. That’s why they feel so real.

So, if you happen to know a writer, beware! Just sayin’---