Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: Barbara Monajem

Title: Inspiration has a will of its own

A few days ago, I returned from a trip to Europe. I write both paranormal and historical romances, and needless to say I found plenty of opportunities for research. Some of it was standard stuff: there were swans on the Thames at Richmond (which is near London) just as there were when Henry I lived in a manor close by, and when the last of the Henrys (so far) went around beheading wives. Since I now know what the Thames and the swans look like in Richmond, I want to set a scene in a historical there, because having been there makes a place seem far more real when I’m writing about it. In Bordeaux, France, I learned to my delight that I was in Aquitaine, from which the redoubtable Eleanor hailed. Who wouldn’t want to put her in a book? In Germany, I didn’t get to see a fabulous Bavarian baroque church because (would you believe it?) they were doing woodworm repairs, but pictures of the interior made me long to write something that takes place in the early 1700s, because baroque is so deliciously decadent – perfect for either a regular historical or a vampire story.

But when it came right down to it, what inspired me most was stuff I’m not writing about right now. Stuff I don’t even have plans for yet. But inspiration whisks one where it wills, and what got me most excited was… first of all, a stork. This was at a bird sanctuary near Bordeaux. I’d never seen a stork before. My God, what a huge bird! No wonder they deliver babies. Their nests would fit a dozen babies, with room to spare. The nest in the picture is on top of a stand built specifically for storks to nest on, but they often nest on the roofs of buildings such as churches. I couldn’t help but imagine a middle-grade or even a young adult novel where a stork plays a major role. Not in the cards at the moment, though…

In Germany, we stayed with relatives, and what got to me was their garden. I’ve been there before, and the garden has always felt a bit enchanted, but this time the King of the Fairies had taken up residence in the form of a rangy white cat with ice-colored eyes. Here’s a picture of him. Don’t be fooled by the garden hose. He wants to pretend, to most ordinary mortals, that he’s just a standard cat. Therefore, he wouldn’t let me get what I really needed – a picture of his reflection in one of the gorgeous glass balls with which the garden is sprinkled – because his reflection shows what he really looks like.

I guess I’ll have to use my imagination for that one, since he pretty much ordered me to write his story. How can I possibly say no? But, but, but… I’m not the sort of person who writes six books a year or three at a time, and I have other plans… 

Which path do you choose to follow when inspiration goes awry? The planned one, somewhat familiar but for which the inspiration may have to be dug up, sometimes dragged? The unexpected, exciting and possibly disastrous? Something in between?

 Barbara Monajem's Tastes of Love and Evil, the second in the Bayou Gavotte series, is currently available from Amazon.

21 comments:

Joanne said...

Barbara,
Inspiration comes in the form of a muse for me. When it happens, I go with it, even if I have to shelve another story for the time being. Or, you can weave the inspiration into your current WIP. And, just wanted to add that I love Europe--especially Scotland.

Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

Great post! I'm off to Scotland in the morning!!! I'm inspired by research all the time, and it often takes me on a twisting ride that's all the more fun. I love it when fans say they didn't expect that twist! :) Me either. LOL :) Glad you had a great time! And were doubly lucky to be inspired at the same time!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Barbara,
Saw your picture of the stork and had a heart attack. Blue Herons look suspiciously like this stork, and I don't care if they carry babies, they eat my koi, so I hate 'em. No wonder they're endangered. Must be a great big Faery Koi or Angel Koi gunning for them in California. I've donated to the cause, many pounds of beautiful fish worth.

Answer to your question? I read. Like one of yours, of course. Someone with a voice I can get into, feel comfortable with like an old friend. I use that voice to coach me back to the page.

Author Guy said...

I do have stories in the works, novels and shorts, usually a few at a time in case I have ideas that fit one but not the other. But just a few days ago I was struck by such an inspiration, which I described in my most recent blog post. It has the double strength of being not only the strongest inspiration I've got right now, but also it's for a holiday theme, which puts an element of time pressure on it.

Marc Vun Kannon
http://authorguy.wordpress.com

PamelaTurner said...

Just wanted to thank Barbara Monajem for guest blogging today here at Haunted Dreams, Dark Destinies. Enjoy her post!

Barbara Monajem said...

Joanne - I think what I'll do is follow the inspiration for a scene or two, then decide whether to go further. Maybe the Faerie King won't like what I write and transfer his demands to some other sucker, I mean writer. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Terry - Scotland! Lucky you. Have a wonderful time. I have wanted to see the Isle of Skye ever since reading Mary Stewart's Wildfire at Midnight, years and years ago. One of these days...

Barbara Monajem said...

Sharon - Your comment reminds me of how I feel about ostriches. I saw them in Swaziland, years ago, and they are the most obnoxious birds! We would eat our meals outdoors (this was at a safari park) and the ostriches would come up and snatch the toast off our plates. The waitress had to take a broom to them to drive them away. By the end of that trip, I wanted to buy ostrich hide boots or handbag just to make a statement. Unfortunately, they were way too expensive. :( But eating an ostrich burger at Fuddruckers took on a whole new meaning.

Barbara Monajem said...

Marc - I went to your blog and read the logline for your holiday story. Fun!

Barbara Monajem said...

Pamela - Thanks for having me here. :)

Nerine Dorman said...

I agree that being able to travel is often the best way to spark the "what ifs" that result in new stories. I wonder what I'll come up with after my visit to Zambia in November... heeeeee!

Barbara Monajem said...

Nerine - I think one of the reasons travel works is because one's mind isn't encumbered with all the usual daily cares. It's easier to notice cool stuff!

Have fun in Zambia, and beware of ostriches, LOL. Actually, I'm not sure they even have ostriches in Zambia, but... just saying. They may look goofy, but they're anything but.

Beth Trissel said...

I love your post, the enchanted garden and the cat. All lovely. My inspiration comes from such as this, also much from research into my English Scots-Irish ancestors.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Beth. I have some Scots-Irish ancestors, too :~)

Bianca Swan said...

Where your muse leads, follow. Loved reading this, and I still say your covers are dynamite!!

Mary Marvella said...

Good post, Barbara. Barely home and back to work. I missed you at M&M! When inspiration knocks me in the head I write a while, just enough to satisfy the source, then I get back to work on my current project. Well, unless the WIP is crapping out. Then I go with the inspiration! Nice bird picture. (a stork, huh. Cool.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Bianca. The thing is, my muse is going too many directions at once. Maybe cloning is the answer, LOL.

Barbara Monajem said...

Mary - I missed being at M&M, too. Your approach makes sense. I gave in to inspiration that's over a year old and wrote the first scene to a medieval historical while I was out of town. It was a lot of fun messing around with a new time period.

Toni V.S. said...

Love the idea of the cat's reflection showing what he really is. Mirrors are supposed to reflect the soul, you know. Good blog, Barbara.

Pamela Cayne said...

What a wonderful trip! I love the inspirations that come out of nowhere--just delightful! And if you don't write about the cat as the fairy king, I'm going to have words with you!

Barbara Monajem said...

Toni - LOL. I have a photo of one of those balls that has my reflection in it. I look awfully distorted. Eek!

Pam - Since I'm fine having words with you, that doesn't count as a threat. :~)