One of the strangest experiences I have had recently is an awareness that the “fiction” I’m writing might not be entirely fiction. The Azellian Affairs series is about an alien race with psychic abilities and its interaction with humanity. Is it possible that I’m not writing about things as “out there” as I think? Where DO I get my inspiration?
All fiction is based in some sort of real experience, event or observation that the author sees in or around him or herself, even the extremely fantastical stuff that some of the old time sci-fi authors used to write. No, we haven’t traveled to the center of the Earth or beamed up into a space ship orbiting Earth—wouldn’t some kind of a transporter be great when we’re struggling through endless traffic or the boredom of a cross country trip, though?!—but many of the inventions that surround us now were only science fiction fifty years ago.
I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Alan Dean Foster, Katherine Kurtz, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan (to name a few) and learned more about conservation, culture clash, and human emotions that I would have expected from the fantastical environments they created around the very mundane dramas of every day human (and sometimes nonhuman) interaction.
Like any other author, I don’t write in a vacuum—I write from the deep well of the collective consciousness and my own experience. As I do that, I begin to ask the question: do every day people have psychic abilities? Are my stories not quite so fantastic as one might think?
I don’t have an answer. I just have a willingness to ask the question and to be open to whatever arises afterward in myself. And if that willingness takes me to places I would never have expected, well, the books I read years ago helped open me to experiences that are beautiful, transformative and wonderful. Even sometimes downright weird—but totally worth it. It’s certainly made me realize that humans are so much MORE. There is a beautiful simplicity and complexity in humanity—yes, both at the same time—that stirs my imagination and demands I connect with that part of me that is eternal and everlasting to play with what might be possible.
A fancy answer to a simple question: where DO I get my inspiration? It is very simple: people. People who are doing nothing more dramatic than living their lives. Do I put other people into my stories? Not so much, necessarily—most of my characters are drawn more from aspects of me, not people who come and go in my life—but the people I write about are living lives much like yours or mine, despite the fantastic environments that might be surrounding them. They grow up, fall in love, get hurt and learn how to live with pain—and find joy in their living. We’re all here to follow our own paths. The details belong to us, but the theme is universal, and in that theme, there is lots of room to play and explore. People and the theme of living is my inspiration.