Monday, August 25, 2008

Mining for Gold

By Michele Ann Young
Those golden nuggets of inspiration. Where do author's find them? It is something I am quite often asked, and something I can't always explain. In fact, sometimes I get downright nervous about the question.

But I have been thinking a bit about it lately. Probably because I need to start a new book and I'm looking for inspiration.

Yes, I write about full figured heroines, and I certainly have lots of inspiration for that aspect of my writing. Women who make the most of their ample attributes and the men who love them are to be found everywhere, looking gorgeous and doing amazing things. But no matter what shape or size a woman is, something else must inspire me to write her particular story.

I often browse the newspapers looking for stories that touch my heart.

One such story stands out. A bunch of relay swimmers won a gold medal, only to realize afterwards that one of their team had not made a proper "touch" or something like that. The judge had missed it. These were only young girls, and they could quite easily have decided to "take the money and run." No one complained. There was no appeal by the other teams. But once the member of the team who knew she had missed, brought it to their attention, together they decided that they did not earn their medal. So, they handed it to the team which should have won. Pure gold.

That story, and it was well written by the reporter, brought tears to my eyes. I felt as if these young girls had affirmed something important. Given me hope for the future.

While there will never be an all girl's swim team in one of my books, I hope I can build that kind of strength into my characters and somehow make the reader feel that same emotion of hope.

Sadly, many of today's stories of issues facing women are not new. In The Lady Flees Her Lord my heroine's husband is abusive. It is an insidious kind of abuse, constant belittling about her weight and her eating habits, and the fact that she hasn't yet produced an heir. Often this is the most difficult kind of behavior for others to see or understand.

My heroine decides she ain't gonna take it no more. Much like her modern counterpart might do, she leaves.

Only there are no half way houses. No divorce. In fact, by leaving, she is breaking the law and her family can be in trouble if they help her. Worst of all, she has lost her chance at a loving relationship.

Or has she?

Well of course, that is all part of the story, and I do like a Happily Ever After ending, something with hope for the future.

So now I'm browsing the newspapers and looking for inspiration and wondering what sort of heroine will inspire me next.


  1. Interesting that you bring up inspiration. I'm blogging about the inspiration for SEALed With A Promise, due out in the Spring, tomorrow.

    I think the real source of our inspiration is the ability to wonder "what if?" Like what if one of the girls on the swim team had grandfather who had been a football coach and believed like Sanders, "Wining is everything; it's the only thing?" Or had a college scholarship riding on this win?

  2. Great article! Your book sounds very interesting, Michele. I know all those rules of the Era so am intrigued as to how you wrote around it.

    As for inspiration, yeah, it is a weird thing. I get that question a lot. I am sure we all do. The first time it took me completely aback as I honestly had not given it thought from that angle! I just blithely wrote and accepted that these things popped miraculously into my mind! Ha! Even back when I had no artistic talent at all I always believed such things were gifts from Above. I still do. But I also realize now that the gifted-one has to force it along at times. Thankfully, we somehow do. But I still lean on the side of it being a bit mysterious, and certainly very amazing.

  3. Hoorah for full-figured heroines! My current heroine is very skinny, and I'm having a little trouble relating to that!

    I get inspiration in odd ways. A friend of mine was talking about her husband one night. She was fed up with him and declared that she would give her right arm for a decent, honest, moral man. That, coupled with a suggestion from Deb, was my inspiration for Lover, the fourth book in the Cat Star Chronicles series. You just never know when or where inspiration will strike. The trick is to remain open to it.

  4. I have to agree with Sharon...inspiration is a mystery to me. I feel lucky that strange ideas (I do write paranormal, after all!) tend to just smack me upside the head from time to time for no apparent reason. Sometimes it's a "what if?", usually after I've seen a movie and been dissatisfied with the treatment of a certain character (happens a lot, especially because I tend to like bad guys). But often it's just something nebulous that falls out of the ether and onto my waiting noggin. I'm happy this way. It just makes that "what inspires you" question difficult to answer, and it's one we ALWAYS get!

  5. Great post, Michele. I'm looking forward to your new book. I overheard a conversation in an airport that led to my next book, Same Time Sunday. I have gotten several ideas from current events that I read about in the newspaper. I love to read the true crime websites where I get all sorts of dastardly ideas! When people ask me where I get my ideas I always say they are everywhere once you are open to noticing them.

  6. "it's just something nebulous that falls out of the ether and onto my waiting noggin"

    Oooh! I like that! Yep, that is how it usually is for me! Great line, Kendra!

  7. I love the sneaky kisses that inspiration bestows, all the better because you don't always know when they are coming. Sure, I have my standbys, those movies, books or people that will invariably make me feel creative and energetic, but when a new source pops you in the jaw, it's quite an experience. Good luck on mining for gold!

  8. Really interesting post! I find it cool that you, as a writer of regency romance, looks to the newspaper and current events for inspiration. I suppose that's why readers can relate to your heroines so well! I'm about to start reading The Lady Flees Her Lord tonight--I'm very excited!

  9. Mary margaret, yes, what if certainly starts the ball rolling and who knows where it may lead.

    Sharon, Cheryl Kendra Leigh you are right, there is always a bit of mystery involved in those light bulb moments. lol

    Christine, a bit like surprises at Christmas, I think.

    Danielle, now I'm nervous. I won't be able to sleep.

  10. I play the "what if" game in life - what if that car had turned right instead of left? What if that ladder knocked over that bucket of paint, what if the person I brushed by last night had stopped to talk?

    Can't wait to see how you get her out of her mess of a marriage Michele. That time period - boy, women sure didn't have a lot of options.