Inspiration. Where do we get it from? Where are our ideas born? Lots of creatives and authors get asked this question. And the truth is often we don't know.
But lately, I’ve been looking at what inspires me and feeds my imagination; I've been examining the flotsam and jetsam that floats around in my internal world. My musings have led me to discover that my inspiration often comes from three things that I absolutely LOVE: Place, History and Mythology.
I think urban settings are just amazing. Grand temples, spooky laneways, underground tunnels and catacombs, steeples, golden domes, gargoyles. (Gargoyles you guys). Statues that guard doorways to other worlds. Marble columns that reach the sky. And what's even better is that it comes in all colours and flavours - from Gothic, to Classical, to Islamic, to Baroque to Buddhist. You name it - it's there.
Architects and sculptors are artists of the brick and stone. And thanks to them, I get to go to town when it comes to creating my stories and places such as my Great Library for the The Book that Broke the World. As it is infinite, I had an endless range of possible spaces and shapes to play with. I got to create room after room, spanning all sorts of cultures and movements. It's filled with everything I LOVE: books, stories, buildings, art - every form of column and archway, catacomb and storage space, bookshelf type, and ceiling. (I’m hoping one day soon you get to play in it too.)
I feel equally connected to rural spaces - particularly trees and rainforests. I LOVE the tiny miniature ecosystems and worlds that live on their trunks and branches. I LOVE great fig trees with their immense roots and Banyan trees that create natural temples. This too made its way into the Great Library, as I LOVE blending the natural with the built to create something that feels like home to me. The City of Night in Twin Cities is a blend of the human and the wild – underground rivers merging with human-built grottos and aqua-ducts and temples and quarries and tunnels.
Human history is littered with endless stories that are more fascinating than anything I could create myself. Generations of people have lived and thrived and suffered and died in cities and civilisations that have completely disappeared. Who were they? What were their names? What did they dream of? What did they suffer through? What did they believe about the world? What did they hope for? I LOVE this. I LOVE how rich the world's history is - how full of unexamined and untold stories.
My city in City of Light is inspired by Istanbul – a city that's had three names – and boasts 47 ancient underground layers. In The Book That Broke the World, Sophie and Zeb jump into a book and into the past, landing on a real steamship - the SS Osiris - that used to cross the Mediterranean in the early 1900's. I even found the name of the man who was Captain of the ship at that time and used that in my story.
I sift through history all the time - through times and places and people - to find those things that will inspire something new. I LOVE the endless river of inspiration that flows through the ancient stones of the world.
Finally mythology and the endless imagery and symbolism that has been layered through the human imagination by generations of other storytellers. These myths are now ours to play with and weave into new tapestries. I find myself drawn particularly to female archetypes and stories – the Baba Yaga, La Loba, Isis, Athena Pronaia, Ishtar. Incredible female archetypes rich with meaning.
In City of Light, my protagonist Lilith was inspired by the tendrils of an old story that I was working with subconsciously before I even realised how perfectly the original myth fit with the book I was writing. It is like mythic Lilith came and sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ear leading me to her story; knowing that I needed to hear what she had to tell me. I LOVE those moments when all the things that light me up come together in a perfectly formed jigsaw puzzle - as if they were always there in my soul, perfectly formed and waiting for me to pull them out bit by bit.
So it is that I've come to understand that like the City of Light, my stories are built on layers and layers of human imagination; on a foundation of the things I LOVE. It gives me a guiding post for future creative endeavours. It makes me think that the answer - when we lack inspiration and are searching for the birthing place of ideas - is that they come in LOVE-SIZED PACKAGES.
What is your internal world filled with? What things swim in the halls of your imagination?
What do you LOVE? Let me know below.