I’ve done a lot of talking about inspiration since The Wolf’s Howl (Maven & Reeve #2) launched in August.
“Where did the inspiration from?” is one of the most common questions asked in any interview, radio, podcast or print (tip for aspiring and new authors: have an answer ready… more tips here).
But I also talk a lot about inspiration and where ideas come from every single time I do an author talk or school workshop. Endlessly discussing the fact that ideas for stories are everywhere (they are) and that writers are people who’ve trained themselves to see them (they are).
They are in the things we see, the things we feel, the things we hear, the things we say, the things we read… and so on.
Today I realised that, despite all that talking, I haven’t written about the various things that specifically inspired The Wolf’s Howl here on my blog.
So here they are.
Three things that inspired The Wolf’s Howl
The ‘August Winds’
I wrote this novel, about Maven & Reeve’s visit to the bleak, isolated, windswept fief of Glawn in August last year. Where I live, on the south coast of NSW, August is a windy month. Really windy. It blows up in the west, whips through town and makes everyone really, really irritated.
Every time you step outside, you have to confront it.
I started to wonder what it would be like to live in a place where the wind howled like that all the time. What would it do to the people who lived there? How would it affect their manner, their fashion, their hairstyles?
And so Glawn was born.
It didn’t really occur to me until I began talking about The Wolf’s Howl in interviews just how much the 2020 lockdowns had imposed themselves upon the book. Not in any obvious ‘plague-story’ way, but in the sense of isolation that permeates Glawn Castle.
The subconscious is a powerful kingdom.
A visit to the Netherlands in 2019
Glawn is a sodden, soggy place, dotted with windmills. In 2019, I was lucky enough to visit Kinderdijk in the Netherlands, a small village near Rotterdam featuring a series of 19 historic mills, all of which remain operational and three of which are set up as working ‘museum mills’.
The experience of being inside one of those mills, with the sails thundering around outside, informed several scenes in The Wolf’s Howl.
Learning to spot ideas
Of course, there are a whole lot of other things that come into play when you’re creating a world and building a story. Sometimes you can only ‘see’ the inspiration behind a novel once that novel is complete.
But writers are naturally observant people. They take notice – and they take note.
I keep a file on my computer where I dump links to articles and blog posts that interest me. It’s also where I keep snippets about the things I see, hear, think, and feel.
Once an idea crystallises into a character or a setting, I open a new document and write down everything I know about that character or setting. I give it a label. And file it in my Works In Process folder.
There are bits and pieces of stories in that folder that date back years.
If an irritating wind can be useful, then you simply never know what will be useful.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).