It’s not WIP Wednesday, but I thought it might be fun to talk about what inspired and influenced my novel that’s coming out this fall, The Phoenix Codex, and ask you about your work in progress or recently finished work. Here are a few things that fed into the writing of the first book in my trilogy!
1. My main inspiration was a silly idea I had when I was young. Because of a few dramatic coincidences, I believed bad things happened to anyone who was mean to me. Even as an adult, I’ve seen a few more coincidences like that, though I don’t seriously believe it’s true.
This led me to the character of Cassie Rios. When she gets really mad at someone — not just annoyed, but furious — wild animals soon attack that person. This was the germ of the story, and the whole mythology about a secret society came later.
2. When I was a kid, my parents had a coffee table book called The Art of Walt Disney. I was entranced by the gorgeous illustrations, and one story line stood out to me.
I never saw the original Disney Snow White movie as a kid (or as an adult, for that matter.) The book featured a couple of stills from the movie (and I may not be pulling the exact ones here, because it was a long time ago and I don’t have the book in front of me.)
The Huntsman is ordered by the Queen to take Snow out to the forest and murder her, and he almost does it…
But he realizes she’s innocent, and he begs her forgiveness. (This image was definitely in the book.)
For whatever reason, this powerful switch from violent intentions to contrition really affected me as a kid, and it stayed with me.
My heroine in The Phoenix Codex, Cassie Rios, is no Snow White. She’s a divorced woman who swears a lot when she’s angry or scared. My hero, Jonathan West, has been sent to kill her because the secret society he belongs to thinks she’s a murderous witch.
Unlike the huntsman, Jonathan started out with an actual reason to believe the heroine needed killing. When he realizes she’s innocent, then like the huntsman, he’s overcome with remorse. He quickly switches from a would-be assassin to someone who wants to protect her.
3. I’ve talked a lot on this blog about making a recovery from suicidal depression, and my experience feeds one scene in the book. That’s as much as I’ll say, or it will be too much of a spoiler. A few of my beta readers have told me this scene really worked for them and resonated with them.
I want to share one other inspiration, but it would be a complete spoiler! I’ll wait until after the book’s been out for a while.
I always make a playlist for a novel, and I listened to “E-Pro” by Beck a lot. My story is set in the Southwest, and to me “E-Pro” had a Western and supernatural vibe. The other theme song was “Butterflies and Hurricanes” by Muse, which to me really spoke to the changes and choices Cassie faces in the story.
Any story we write is a mix of hundreds of experiences and influences, and maybe some divine inspiration as well. I think it’s kind of cool how our brains will mix different things together and come up with a brand new cocktail.
What stories or experiences inspired you in your work? Do you have music that you turn to again and again when you’re writing it? I’d love to hear! Happy Friday, and thanks for reading!