Today's the day that the The King Must Die book tour stops here at the Into The Literary Forest blog. Today I have the very special honor of having author N. Gemini Sasson do a guest post for us today about how she finds inspiration for her novels.
Finding Inspiration from History
N. Gemini Sasson
A lot of people wonder where writers get their ideas from. Really, how do they come up with all those ideas? Wait for the Muse of Creativity to alight on their shoulder and whop them in the noggin with the Wand of Inspiration? Here’s the boring truth: writers aren’t as much creative geniuses as they are observers of human nature and the world around them. They don’t produce completely original ideas; they absorb their surroundings, transform them into words and reflect them back in a different form. They see similarities in seemingly unrelated things and pay attention to details that others, in their busyness, gloss over.
A long time ago, back in my high school days, my best friend was an aspiring artist. She taught me to paint and while I never had the passion to pursue art, she said one thing to me that has stuck with me through decades: “There’s more than one color in a sunset, if you look for it—there’s yellow and pink and lavender. And shadows are not just black, they’re shades of blue-gray, moss green and muted brown.” That was an epiphany. It changed the way I saw everything.
That led to other realizations—about how things move, their shapes, how light changes throughout the day, and how the weather not just looks, but feels. A medieval soldier trudging through the Highlands of Scotland on a wintry day wasn’t just out for a stroll. He was hungry, windbeaten, and footsore. The scenery around him may have appeared monotone at first glance, but it’s not—it’s a patchwork blend of purple and gold dusted with pure white, under an endless steel-gray sky. Sometimes, if I’m stuck writing a scene, I turn to photos for inspiration.
More than just the physical world, I am an observer of people’s emotions—how the pitch of their voices change when they’re excited, how they avert their eyes when they’re lying, how their shoulders slump when their burdens weigh them down. I put the things I see into words so that someone else can envision the same thing.
But a story isn’t much of a story without characters. This is where I feel like a cheat, because my characters come from history books. They were real people. I’m only retelling the happenings of their lives in a way I hope today’s readers can relate to. Life in 14th century England or Scotland may have been very different from 21st century America, but it’s the novelist’s job to make a story relevant and that’s what I strive to do. I don’t have any readers who are kings or queens (as far as I know), but in The King Must Die one thing I tried to highlight was the bond between a mother and her son and what happens when outside forces test those bonds. A question any of us who are parents can understand is: To what lengths would you go to protect your child?
So I get an idea, latch onto a character and then what? Those ideas get jotted down in a notebook and they can percolate for months or even years before I have the time to turn my attention to them fully. Meanwhile, I bookmark web sites and collect biographies and non-fiction books on anything related. I’m constantly thinking and planning several books ahead, even though I’m actually only writing one book at a time. It’s a very layered and drawn-out process. Throughout process, I just keep asking myself questions, the most important of which is why?
There is no magical formula to finding inspiration. It’s everywhere. You just have to look.
N. Gemini Sasson is also the author of The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy: Book I), Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy: Book II), The Honor Due a King (The Bruce Trilogy: Book III) and Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (2011 IPPY Silver Medalist for Historical Fiction). She holds a M.S. in Biology from Wright State University where she ran cross country on athletic scholarship. She has worked as an aquatic toxicologist, an environmental engineer, a teacher and a track and cross country coach. A longtime breeder and judge of Australian Shepherds, her articles on bobtail genetics have been translated into seven languages.
Web site: http://www.ngeminisasson.com
Thank you so much N. Gemini Sasson, that was really inspirational. Everyone don't forget to read my review of The King Must Die (here) and grab your own copy to read and enjoy the story for yourselves. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So don't forget to comment!
HAPPY READING EVERYONE! :)