If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll be familiar with our ‘Day in the Writing Life’ column, where we meet one of our RWA members and learn a little about how they do what they do when it comes to writing. We normally do it in a question and answer format, but this time, just to mix it up a little, we thought we’d ask Elise Ackers just one question and see what she came up with (it’s possible that I knew that she had something up her sleeve on this topic…). So, without further ado, here’s Elise, on the subject of inspiration!
For writers, inspiration is everywhere: a song lyric, a real-life event, a what-if question born from something ordinary. Sometimes these inspirations lead to a short story, novella or novel, other times they are a fleeting intrigue.
In my experience, inspiration comes to me. Often when I’m driving and I can do nothing about it short of pulling off the freeway. But this year, I’ll be chasing my inspiration.
All the way to the spectacular coastlines and ancient wonders of Turkey.
To give you a bit of context, I recently finished writing my first new adult manuscript, and it was based loosely on my backpacking and tour group experiences through Europe. I spent five weeks on a Contiki coach in 2007, and I knew at the time that I would one day write about it. Almost seven years later, I managed to get out of my own way, and I believe that it is my most diverse, culturally rich and surprising book to date.
In the midst of research about all things international, I became enchanted with the idea of writing a book whilst travelling. Of capturing the nuances and details the internet could not give me, and twisting them into fiction.
One eight page itinerary and a lot of money later, I will be doing just that. Come May, I will be exploring Istanbul, ballooning over the moon-like landscape of Cappadocia, and sailing the coast with a bunch of strangers I’ve already decided will be my new best friends. I will also be writing about John and Kayla, two long-standing friends with benefits who find themselves beginning a relationship in reverse.
Because I understand that travel by its very nature is distracting and exhausting, I’m not challenging myself to write an entire book whilst I’m over there. Instead, I’ve given myself a goal to return home with a story skeleton. This work in progress will be heavy on location and description, light on plot. Plot can come later when I’ve got my feet up at home. As of right now, I have an outline, a cast of characters, and a lot of room to move. Where inspiration leads, I will follow.
I read an article in a recent edition of Heart Talk (RWA’s member newsletter, Ed.) about two RWA ladies who challenged themselves to Tough Mudder, with the view to put their experiences into their books. I thought that was an excellent idea, and the whole point of my blog post today is to reinforce that message.
You are surrounded by inspiration, in almost every imaginable form. And whilst there’s something to be said for sitting your butt in your chair and knocking the words out, don’t forget to leave the house and chase your muse down. Writing a scene at the beach? Get thyself to the sand. Our imaginations are remarkable things, but sometimes reality gives us something we might never have thought of ourselves. Tiny details which make great scenes remarkable, sensations or observations which bring settings alive.
You don’t have to fly to Turkey – I may be crazy, time will tell. But if you want to write a hilarious camping scene, for example, maybe bully your family into embracing the great outdoors and wait for the chaos to present itself. You may return with scenes you might otherwise never have imagined.
Get out there, take something to capture your ideas, and find inspiration in its natural habitat.
(And keep your receipts, because I’m pretty sure stuff like that is tax-deductible!)
For inspiration that came from a little closer to home, you might like to check out the print edition of Elise’s three-novella series, jointly titled Ask Me to Stay. Here’s a blurb:
In Australian country towns, everyone knows everybody else’s business. Nothing is private, and escaping the past is difficult if not impossible. But how much of the truth does anyone ever really know, even about those closest to them?
When family tragedy brings Ethan Foster home, he doesn’t expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything – and Ethan’s was ruined long ago. His family and friends don’t want him around, and nor does Sam O’Hara, the girl he left behind.
In this tender and heartwarming romantic trilogy, a funeral, a wedding, and a homecoming spark a series of events that prove that love can find a way, if only given a chance.
Includes the stories Ask Me to Stay, Ask Me for More and Ask Me for Tomorrow.
Elise K. Ackers is a romantic suspense and contemporary romance author based in Melbourne, Australia. She is print and ebook published with Penguin’s Michael Joseph and Destiny Romance, and ebook published with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing. Elise is a 2013 Romantic Book of the Year finalist, and is known to do some pretty strange stuff in the name of research. Like fly to another country on a whim.
You can find Elise here: