Where Inspiration Comes From

We talked about inspiration a few weeks ago in the YA Rebels, but I was thinking of a more immediate example.  Since I started a new project last week – to fill the void between edits – I started gathering together my bits of inspiration.  It’s a thing I do.  And I try to take it from everywhere: it’s not just a picture or a movie or an idea, it becomes a little bit of everything all at once.

New Idea actually came from two ideas blended together.  I was doing research on a few certain myths that related to one of the scenes in WITCH EYES, and ended up on one of those Wikipedia tangents where you click a link, read a new article, then click the second link, read the article.  Wait, I’m the only one who does that?  Oops.  Well anyway, there was that idea.  Then there was an aborted novel idea I had about six months ago, that wasn’t a plot in and of itself, it was just a part of a bigger story.  Put the two together: peanut butter and jelly.  At least…I hope so.


This is typically the first step.  Every project I work on very quickly has a Song.  Witch Eyes has “Unbreakable” by Fireflight.  Moonset has “Kill the Lights” by The Birthday Massacre. And Shiny New Project has two:  “Make Me Wanna Die” by The Pretty Reckless (I’m sorry!  Jenny Humphrey is actually a good singer!) and “Carry On (My Wayward Son)” by Kansas (best known in recent years as the “what came before” song used during the Supernatural season finales).

Shiny New Project also has a mix of genres that’s interesting.  There’s some late 90s pop (Britney), some industrial rock (Metric, Stabbing Westward), a couple of new bands (Vanessa Brown, We Are The Fallen, and Jeffree Star) and a bunch of random club mixes.

I also have a playlist of strictly instrumental and background music, that I’ll switch over to when the words and beats of the playlist start to become too familiar.


Pictures and graphics are always the most important part for me.  I usually have pictures for each of the main characters in the story – I have to know what they look like, after all.  Usually, I start with an actor or a character from a certain role, and gradually that image in my head changes until the character starts to take over, and I end up with a different picture altogether.  Modeling shots are great for this, because there’s usually all sorts of craziness that they’ll get up to for a shoot.  And it makes for interesting visuals.

Then there’s scenery shots, or general themes of images I look for.  With WITCH EYES, since I based Belle Dam ON a specific city, I used a lot of images taken in that city.  With Shiny New Project, it’s been a lot of black and white shots, cityscapes, and high rise buildings.  The key words with scenery shots for this book have been “creepy” “atmospheric” and “gloomy.”  And that’s pretty close to the idea in practice.


And who could forget the movies?  Movies are great for me, scenery wise, because you can get so much mood and atmosphere from certain shots of a movie.  The Invisible is one of my absolutely favorite movies, because the atmosphere in that movie is so pervasive and haunting.

Although sometimes, it’s a TV show.  The concept behind MOONSET was very heavily tied to my memories of watching Party of Five back in the day. My agent kept telling me back in the day that WITCH EYES reminded her of Smallville meeting Romeo and Juliet, so while I was working on revisions, I also watched the first couple seasons of Smallville again, and totally got it.  (Up until then, I was thought Buffy had inspired it more).

With Shiny New Idea, we stuck with the movies though. Constantine, Whatever It Takes (points to anyone who knows that movie), The Dark Knight, My Best Friend’s Wedding.  None of these have actually anything to do with the storylines in the book, but they all have little glimmers of influence on my perspective while writing it.

So that’s a bunch of the places that contributed to the inspiration behind my new pet project.  And actually, seeing it all down on paper is kind of strange.  I guess I didn’t realize how many places I’d taken inspiration from, either!


One thought on “Where Inspiration Comes From

  1. I also do that with Wikipedia. One page will lead me to a dozen others.

    I listen to music when I write. It inspires me, but it’s more to keep me typing than to influence my scenes.

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