Saturday, April 23, 2016

Do Pictures Inspire My Writing?

No, not usually, except in the most general sense that looking at photos and art can be inspiring and nurturing to creativity. Earlier in my writing career, long before I was published (and before Pinterest), I used to cut out pages from magazines and take bits and pieces of pictorials to help me come up with ideas for futuristic clothing.  High fashion spreads were especially useful because they tended to feature really interesting garments, backgrounds and accessories. I also loved photos of jewelry, the more unusual the better. But I don't do that much anymore, as I've gotten better at visualizing details for my characters and settings while I'm in the flow of writing the science fiction romance novels. I won't say I'm never inspired by a specific photo these days, but it's rare.

There was one of actor Charlie Hunnam that was pretty darn inspiring…but I digress!

One of my novels, Mission to Mahjundar, did spring into my mind pretty much fully formed from two pictures I saw in the same general time frame, long before it ever reached final draft, much less was published. I don't have the rights to use the photos so I can't share them here (although I do have the tattered magazine pages in a file somewhere).

I saw a photo of a windswept, abandoned temple, standing alone on a plateau, somewhere in the Middle East. The image remained with me and I pondered – as one does – what adventure would bring people to this remote location and what would happen to them there. What would they be seeking? Would they find whatever they needed? This became the temple of the Ten Gods, where Shalira must go on her wedding journey, to seek a key to her mother’s long-closed tomb.  The key thing that put all the other elements together in my mind and set off the plot was a perfume ad in a magazine. The illustration was very dark in tone, with a woman in a purple-and-gold hooded cloak holding a beautiful crystal bottle that glowed golden. The light from the bottle illuminated her face. And I thought, that’s it! That’s Shalira inside the tomb. Then I needed to know who would be there with her…and my Sectors Special Forces soldier, Mike Varone, told me he would be, of course!

I was inspired to write a short story about ancient Egypt by a picture of statue of a handsome soldier that had clearly been one of a pair at some time. I thought about a lonely museum worker who might picture herself standing hand in hand with the warrior…and then I had to figure out how to make that happen. This photo below is not the one which inspired the story (Available in the Five Minute Love Stories anthology) but is from roughly the same era, and has a similar look.
Photo by the author

My upcoming May release, Lady of the Star Wind, has a subplot pretty much entirely inspired by an ancient mirror I once saw at a museum, although the Mirror of the Mother in my novel is very different.

When it comes to the ancient Egyptian paranormal novels I write, I do spend time looking through my large collection of books, tomb wall painting reproductions, 1800's prints and advertising cards, and other artifacts. 
Photo by the author

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