Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Potato Chip Theory ... or Some Such Nonsense

After taking inventory of my reading history over the past ... hmm, let me think ... I'll say forty some years, I made a curious observation. I make my choices in reading like craving potato chips. I couldn't read just one gothic romance (circa my teen through early adult years). I had to devour them like that bag of chips. One scrumptious bite of syrupy, sappy love scenes after another, until I satiated my appetite ... or gained too many pounds of love calories.

And then a new flavored chip came along during my late twenties to late thirties. One with lots of bite to it, i.e. stories of horror and nightmares, ala Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, and the rest. The adrenaline rush that those scary monsters, ghouls, and ghostly creations gave me couldn't have been more satisfying. The scarier the better, even if they did keep me up nights, along with every nightlight I could manage to turn on without my husband griping!

But soon, I had my fill, the last gory scene of blood and guts splattering everywhere. Nausea set in and I experienced indigestion. Time to move on. That was nearly twenty years ago. The moment to launch the newest, latest, greatest tasting chip ever! Mysteries ... suspenseful ones, forensic ones, romantic ones, heroic ones, anything with the familiar mysterious taste. And to the present, I still enjoy those chips! The flavor is addicting, probably some ingredient I'm meant to crave. Whatever it is, I will keep reading ... or eating ... every word of every page of every chapter of every ... ah, you get the picture.

So, then, I began to wonder if my reading habit imitated my behavior with other things, like my favorite television shows, music, restaurants, etc. Let me think another minute ... nope. At least not as noticeable as with reading. For example, I enjoy American Idol and The Voice, but I don't care for those other music competition shows (and I won't mention the names).

Still, it does make me consider how producers, publishers, and all the other powers that make important decisions, choose what's coming out next. Television back in the fifties and sixties could not get enough western shows on the air. In the seventies, it overflowed with detective shows like Mod Squad, Hart to Hart, McCloud, Columbo, and I refuse to go on. In publishing YA loves vampires, and readers sure like to chomp down on gossipy morsels of the celebrities and politicians. Anyway, I'm sure you get my drift. Potato Chip Theory? Maybe not such nonsense after all.

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Alice in Realityland

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Finding Inspiration and Characters in Odd or Obvious Places

This is Milo, aka Lou. He was a big part of my inspiration for writing Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes, and I just had to include him in the story because of it. So, for me, it brings up the topic of where do you find your inspiration and how do you come up with the characters you write about in your stories?

In my experience, it's usually a subconscious process. But sometimes it is very obvious, such as Lilly's aunts -- Millie, Sadie, and Fran. I had exact relatives in mind when I created and developed those characters. All of them were aunts on Mom's side of the family, but of course for obvious reasons, I won't say which ones! Funny, entertaining, all of them with their own quirks, made them perfect candidates to include in Lilly's zany, kooky world. Her life wouldn't be the same without them. They are the ying and yang of her existance, and she wouldn't be the Lilly readers learn to know and love otherwise.

But now back to Lou, aka Milo. Do you ever just sit and watch your pet, if you have one, and think, if only I could put him, or her, on a television show as the star, wouldn't it just be so entertaining? Well, Milo made me think that, and more! Besides, Lilly needed an ally who would be totally supportive, totally loving, who wouldn't give her any of those critical moments she gets from others. And that's Lou. Of course on the other hand, Lou is (and so is Milo) just feisty enough to give Lilly trouble and near-heart attack moments! But enough about Lou.

What about your inspiration and/or characters? Do you find them in those odd moments or weird places? If you're not looking there, you probably should. For instance, stop and take a moment to watch those around you. You might be surprised what you'll find. I know I did :-)

Have a great day, and happy writing!

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
A Date to Die For