The inspiration behind the stories, ideas, settings and characters of the Mendaihu Universe have come from all kinds of places over the years. I’ve talked about quite a few of them on various blogs as well. I’ve mentioned the albums I listened to, the movies and the books and the TV shows and and and… There’s been a lot that I’ve read and enjoyed that inspired me to write these stories. I made a semi-official list sometime around around late 2002 that included all of these. Maybe one of these days I’ll update it and paste it here on the blog, just for fun.
So where does this inspiration come from, anyway? Well, my first rule of being inspired by something has always been if it causes me to drop everything and run to the computer to start typing. If I finish reading a book or watching a TV show or a film and my first reaction is a creative excitement, if it’s made me notice the writing and the production in a good way…then it’s done its job, and done it well.
[Good recent examples: the always level-headed Christopher Foyle in Foyle’s War, no matter what mood he may be in; the deliberate pacing of the movie adaptation of The Martian, the one-person cast of driving ninety percent of Gravity; the movements of a large cast in Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves.]
I always cite music as an inspiration, though that tends to be more on a molecular level, as it were. Certain songs will inspire the mood of a specific scene; some albums will be my go-to’s for writing sessions (one recent release getting heavy rotation here is Shearwater’s Jet Plane and Oxbow). I may occasionally hear a song and imagine a scene not yet written; with those I’ll either make brief notes or I’ll listen to the song a few more times and think about whether it’ll fit in the project I’m working on.
I like to keep my eyes and ears open for these sorts of things. I’m not one to read or see something and think I want to write THAT! Mainly because I know by the time I finish it, it’ll no longer be in season. It’s more on a creative level; if I’m amazed by the writer’s dexterity in weaving a complicated plot, or their ability to look at a well-used storyline from a completely different angle, that’s what will inspire me to take the same route.
I suppose it all boils down to: how did the creator get his or her creation stuck in my mind? It has to be more than flashbangs and shock-and-awe and disturbing scenery; there’s a time and place for all of that, but it’s nothing I can or should completely rely on. It has to be the whole as well as its elements; the artistry as well as the work.
That’s what inspires my own.