A new year is all about new beginnings, so this edition of the Ask an Author feature focuses on the beginnings of our authors. We asked them, quite simply, what inspired them to write their first book.
In my case, I was always crafting stories for my sisters and my cousins’ playtime; my Mom, God bless her, noticed that I was really good with stories, so she encouraged me to write them out, helping me make covers and illustrating my own books. I’m pretty sure she kept them somewhere, but rest assured, these are books that will never see the light of day!
I’d always written bit and pieces, stories and letters and things, and over the years several friends and mentors had suggested I write a book, but it wasn’t until eight years ago that I decided to give it a proper go. My first book—the first one I wrote, not the first one published—was a chick-lit entitled A Dash of Reality. It’s the story of Mel, a ditzy marketing assistant who dreams of becoming famous. But Mel’s sleazy bosses have other ideas and she risks losing not only her job, but also the apartment she’s worked so hard for. Happily, Mel comes up with an idea which might save both. She comes up with an idea… an idea… what idea? I’d pantsed my way through the first few chapters and now I had to come up with an idea that would carry the plot for the rest of the book. Something fun. But what? What could ditzy Mel do that might save her? There’s an old adage in writing that you should ‘write what you know’ so being a newbie I did just that. By that time, I’d run nearly 20 marathons, ploddy slow ones, but I knew something about finishing a long distance race. I drew on those experiences—yes, that bee incident actually happened, and yes, that’s exactly how sports bras work—I borrowed anecdotes and characteristics from running friends, I even used some of my favourite running routes, to carry Mel’s story.
My first book, a fan-fiction writing guide, was created for a contest. It’s very short as per the requirements for the contest in question. My first book of any real length is from my Lost Heroes set. It was born of a need to get closure on the backstories of a couple of characters from an RPG I was in that fell apart. Inspiration, it will strike from the most unexpected places.
My photography was chosen to be featured on a new website, Venture Galleries (VG). The owners of the site asked me to blog about the photos. Turns out, VG has a publishing division and strongly supports indie authors. They made me an attractive offer, “If you write a book, we’ll publish it.” How could I turn that down? My wife and I began to discuss the subject and throw out possible topics and characters and we came up with The Tourist Killer. A future blog will detail how our discussions brought Claudia Barry to life and got her story in print.
I started writing as a child. In Yr 6 (age 10-11), we wrote and illustrated our own books, and I enjoyed it so much, I came home and wrote more stories (including one on how to train your cat!) It wasn’t until College (US equivalent is High School) and we had to chose three types of written assessment for English. One of the options was to write a story, so at the age of 16, I wrote a novella, which was given high marks. Years later, I rewrote it into a trilogy, just for the sake of writing a story! I’ve since written about 7 novels, although only two have been published.
Our full roster of authors, in alphabetical order: Angela Barry, D. Odell Benson, F.C. Etier, Jean Gilbert, J. C. Hart, Hunter Marshall, Catherine Mede, Lee Murray, Karo Oforofuo, A.J. Ponder, Meryl Stenhouse, Lorene Stunson Hill, Lynn Voedisch, and Sybil Watters.
Image credit: Chad Mauger.