Friday, January 6, 2012

Inspiration by Carol Berg

There is a set of standard questions that readers always ask authors.  Where do you get your ideas?  When did you start writing?  How did you get published?  How many hours a day do you write?  Why are you so mean to your characters?  We’ve answered them so many times, we don’t even have to think about them. 

So here it is holiday time and one is thinking about family dinners and travel and New Year’s celebrations, as well as January book releases, and my friend Rashda, in her most unique and clever way, comes up with a question I have to consider carefully.  Where do I get my inspiration to write?  Inspiration, not ideas.  What makes me sit down and tear my brain to shreds to come up with these convoluted stories?  What gets me back in the chair only a few weeks after finishing seven years of constant deadlines.  As I sit here and close my eyes, the notions that come to mind are kind of odd.

Trees.  Dense evergreens or multicolored oaks along a meadow or sparse across a desolate hillside.  Or colored gold with autumn and sheltering a path. 

Green seams in the rocky face of a mountain.  

Weather: lowering clouds or driving snow or a thin autumn day after the leaves have blown and the haze says a change is coming.  Sun sparkling on frost covered tree limbs. 

Moonlit nights so bright that trees and fences cast shadows. 

The way the dust rolls up in the desert air.

Unanswered questions.  The Etruscan artifacts in the Penn Archeology Museum, talking about a sophisticated people who were inundated by the Roman Empire. 

Phrases like the last lighthouse or you can’t go home again or who is on the other side of the mirror.  What does that mean

The glimpse of Billy Elliot grown up (at the end of the film by the same name) leaping onto the stage…no, really it is the expression on his father’s face as he looks on a wonder we can’t see… 

Books, certainly.  Oh yes, I’m getting close. 

Each of these speaks of one thing…story.  What’s happening, who’s out there just beyond the place I can see?  What makes a hard-bitten miner’s face express such awe when he’s watching a ballet? 

So that’s it.  There’s a story in there somewhere, and I want to know what happens!

About the Writer:  Former software engineer Carol Berg majored in mathematics at Rice University and computer science at the University of Colorado, in part so she could avoid writing papers.  Yet now her thirteen epic fantasy novels have won national and international awards, including multiple Colorado Book Awards, the Prism Award, the Geffen Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature.  They have been read, so readers tell her, on five continents, on a submarine under the Mediterranean, in the war zone of Iraq, and on the slopes of Denali.  Her novels of the Collegia Magica have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, the reviews using words like compelling, intelligent, complex, enthralling, and superbly realized.  The latest is The Daemon Prism.  Carol lives in Colorado and on the internet at [].