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Inspiration is all around!


(All examples in this article are from my December 2006 Silhouette Romance release A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER.)

The first question I am invariably asked when I tell people I am an author is... Where do you get your ideas?  And the answer I always give?  Everywhere!


Because inspiration is all around us.  Walking past us on the street, looking back at us from the TV, sliding by in our dreams, locked away deep inside our memories.  So how do you tap into all of these everyday opportunities to find the next big idea?  How can you make sure all that inspiration doesn't pass you by?  Here are some ways I have found to tap into my muse whenever inspiration strikes.


note this


Keep a notebook on you at all times! 


I have long since made a habit of this.  You never when when the next big idea is going to hit.  Often you tell yourself, "Wow!  What a whopper!  I will never forget this idea!" and then by the time you get home, the crux of the big idea has become mush.  WRITE IT DOWN!  It's like when you wake up and your dreams are so vivid and real, but by the time you get out of the shower 90% of the dream has disappeared back into your subconscious.


Keep the front of your notebook for grocery lists, and general notes to self, but keep the back for everything book related.  Names, places, plots, small ideas, big ideas, funny scenarios, you won't regret it.  And months from now, when you are looking for something to spark an idea, turn to the back of your old notebook and you will be pleasantly surprised by all the juicy snippets found therein.


off the wall


Keep an inspiration wall within sight of your workspace.


I always cast my books.  If I was making this book into a film, who would best epitomise the characters look, essence, energy?  Pick a couple of pictures, plaster them on a corkboard above your monitor, use them as the background on your computer, paste them on the title page of your work in progress, do whatever you need to do to hook into the very particular sensibility and emotional hooks that each character has.


In A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER, I used Raoul Bova (the supremely gorgeous one-who-got-away from Under the Tuscan Sun) as inspiration for my hero Luca Siracusa.  The slick haircut, sexy smile but oh so kind eyes summed up my hunky yet damaged hero perfectly.


This one picture of Sherilyn Fenn encapsulated Gracie Lane's cheeky, hot-blooded energy.  I always thought of her as a naughty Snow White and loved the juxtaposition of the glass of wine, packet of crisps, sexy red dress, bare feet, while sitting on the kitchen sink.  Isn't she great?


wandering eyes


Travel with a writers eye.


A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER all began with a picture of the Trevi Fountain I had found on the internet when I was daydreaming about our upcoming trip to Italy.


Gracie was already swimming in my head as she had appeared in my two previous books MARRIAGE MAKE-OVER and HOW TO MARRY A BILLIONAIRE.  But she was such a cheeky thing, (her friend Kelly referred to her as "racy Gracie", a girl with a "penchant for red lipstick and a vocabulary that would put a wharfie to shame") and I wasn't sure how I could make her into heroine material.  But then picturing this spitfire, sitting on the edge of the huge fountain, all alone, desolate, without her friends she suddenly needed my help big time!


Before I went to Rome, I started writing the story, knowing I could fill in the flavour and sights and sounds when I returned.  This was a huge help, having the framework of the story down first, as when I hit the Trevi Fountain (where the book begins) I knew what I was looking for, I soaked in the flavour of the place with a writer's eye rather than a tourist's eye.  Here are a couple of moments in the book which were taken purely from my own experiences traveling through the region in question:


At the Trevi Fountain:

There were people everywhere, tourists throwing coins, local men selling bottle openers emblazoned with the Pope’s face, pairs of nuns sifting through the bottle openers, shysters “giving away” one Euro roses.

In a cafe in Rome:

Pictures of an Italian movie star Gracie did not recognise lined the walls, and a television tucked high in the corner played the Italian version of an American reality TV show.  It only reminded her how disjointed she felt so far from home; everything was at once familiar but just out of reach.

So remember, inspiration is all around you.  Be receptive to new ideas, keep track of all ideas big and small, and go looking for them, and you will never run out concepts from which to launch your next great work of fiction!


All articles copyright © Ally Blake, not to be reproduced without permission.











































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