One Writer’s Inspiration by Lisa Lowell
So often the first question, after people discover I’m a writer, is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ I love this question because it allows me to stretch my muse beyond the limitations of an elevator pitch most people want when they ask ‘What’s your book about?’, a query I deplore. So, where does the flow originate?
Perhaps I am an alien in this aspect, but my simple reply is The Universe.
Sometimes I’ve written scenes based on a pink elm leaf drifting in a rain puddle, a few repetitive notes on a piano, a long drive home at night in the rain and even a rediscovered screwdriver tangled up in the spaghetti of wiring behind my computer desk. One song, Lindsey Sterling’s Crystalize, practically drove a relationship between two characters in my book Heart Stone. Those few flashes of experience fit into some orphan scene on which I am meditating at the time, and the magic is done.
Then there are the characters. I never base my characters on individuals I’ve met or know. It’s unusual in the writing community perhaps, but I cannot even give you a specific person who has inspired any of them. The characters are an amalgam of me, how I want to be or at the least how I perceive myself. Owailion is the practicality and ruthless pragmatism I can’t seem to break in myself. Somewhere inside I harbor Raimi’s pitiful self-esteem, thinking she will ruin everything she touches, and I have the withered computers and cell phones to witness that. Vamilion’s wretched patience is what keeps me going to face rooms full of thirteen-year-olds every day and tending a Parkinson’s patient every night. Perhaps I just wish I had Honiea’s gifts. All my characters are, unfortunately, uniquely, a slice of me.
But how do you get your ideas, they wail. Simply put, from God. I know my writing is a gift and I do not use it I will be held accountable. So, I write. The ideas come in dreams, in twists in my own life, or in curious, ‘I wonder what would happen if…’ moments. I just recently finished a sci-fi/dystopian novel sparked by a friend living in Denver. She came here to Oregon a few years ago and never got to the ocean. I wrote a book to take the ocean to her. Poof, an entire book where the world is flooded and Denver is a coastal city. The Wise Ones series started as a drawing by Andre’ Norton in her Gryphon books. I drew the castle in the illustration and then wondered who would live in such a masonry confection. I found her in Tiamat, the Sea Queen. When I wrote that story of how a mousy little girl could become a queen worthy of that scenery, through her trials, I had the makings of an entire nine-book series.
It was serendipity at its best. So, you see, I could never squeeze the universe into an elevator pitch. Thank you for listening to a slightly longer version.
Bio – Lisa Lowell has been writing for most of her life, focusing mostly on historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction, anywhere anything is possible. She has three children and lives with her husband Pat in Oregon. She teaches middle-school English because she has a masochistic streak that led her into being an author in the summer.
Dragon Image: Imzuli in White by Paula Litchfield