Friday, January 21, 2011

Inspiration Inspires Imagination

I often find the most mundane of facts fascinating, and it often inspires my imagination. Others read some obscure fact or witness a seemingly normal occurrence and are inspired to invent.

Karl Friedrich Benz of Germany invented the first gas-powered automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. But it was America's own Henry Ford who made the automobile affordable by utilizing assembly lines in his factories.

The idea of utilizing a production assembly line came to Mr. Ford after he saw a dis-assembly line the Armour and Swift meat packing plants used to process meat.

And nature inspired Swiss inventor George de Mestral to create Velcro. When he and his dog returned from a walk in the woods, they were both covered in burs. He looked at the burs under a microscope and got the idea for a new type of fastener. He named his invention Velcro from the words velour and crochet.

 And Martin Cooper became inspired to invent the cell phone from watching Captain Kirk speak into his communicator. Much of the futuristic technology in the science fiction series Star Trek is based on real science.
Makes me wonder if teleportation might one day be possible. It's not something I'd want to try. I saw the movie, The Fly!

But fiction and fantasy are often based on real science. Or inspire real science. In Robert Heinlein's Glory Road, he has a character reading from an electronic tablet in his future world as books are no longer made from bound pages. Since Glory Road was first published in 1963, it makes me wonder if the inventor of e-readers might not have been a science fiction fan.

I'm more of a romance fan but I also enjoy science fiction and the paranormal, especially when there are romantic elements. My favorite paranormal/horror writer is Dean Koontz. I enjoy Stephen King's work, but Mr. Koontz has a unique way of combining science fiction, horror, and/or the paranormal with a dash of romance. In Dark Rivers of the Heart, Mr. Koontz combines suspense and science fiction with romance in a tale of a man, a woman and a dog on the run from a high-tech rogue government agency.

I like the concept of rogue government agencies. The idea stayed with me after reading this book and played a big part in my own paranormal romance. Later, I read Fear Nothing, the first book in Dean Koontz' Moonlight Bay trilogy. The main character, Chris Snow, has XP--exeroderma pigmentosum. I was fascinated by the idea of a "real" disease that prevented the sufferer from venturing out in daylight without risking severe burns and skin cancers. I read all three books in the series and began researching the disease while contemplating ideas for a vampire book. Around the same time, I saw a re-run of the old Jean-Claude Van Dam movie, Universal Soldier. And by 2005, I had completed my first draft of Out of the Darkness.

Books, movies, life, and the most mundane of events can trigger the imagination. And inspiration can come from any direction. As a writer, I'm always reading or listening, hoping to get an idea for that next book. And when I'm reading, I often wonder what inspired the writer.

So, if you're a writer, what inspired your latest release? And if you're a reader, what inspires your decision to choose a paranormal over a historical? Or suspense over horror?

Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. As an avid reader, I'm not sure I can answer the question of what inspires my decision to choose a paranormal over a historical or a suspense over horror. I enjoy reading any book from John Saul, Stephen King, or Dean Koontz to any Historical Romance such as Jude Deveraux and Catherine Coulter and now, a paranormal romance by Lilly Gayle. Also, a suspense by Lisa Gardner, Karen White, and Fern Michaels or a romance by Robyn Carr, Susan Wiggs, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips, just to name a few of the authors I love to read. I also love reading books by North Carolina authors and aspiring authors. Anything can trigger me to read a book, the cover, an excerpt, a trailer, or a suggestion from friends. In other words, I LOVE TO READ! The best book I read in 2010 was OUT OF THE DARKNESS, by far!

  2. Becky,
    You just mentioned some of my favorite auhtors!I don't think I've read Karen White, but the rest of those you listed are some of my all time favorites. But I'd like to add Jane Ann Krantz aka Amanda Quick, Karne Robarbs, and Johnathan Kellerman to that list. And for a list of wonderful NC writers, check out:
    You might just find an author you love from that list. I know I have. And no. I'm not talking about myself. lol!

  3. Hi Lilly,
    Great blog.One of the things that really inspire me when I am writing or puts an idea in my head, and I know this might sound strange, but sad songs always do it for me.



  4. Not strange at all, Margaret. I know a mult-published author who loves country music because she says, "There's a story in every song." I have ecclectic music tastes but the country songs I've heard and liked do have great story possibilities.

  5. Gorgeous covers, Lilly Gayle! Congrats on them both. My latest release is a second edition of my non-fiction book for writers. I was inspired by members of my critique who asked me how to be healthy and a writer. WRITER WELLNESS, A WRITER'S PATH TO HEALTH AND CREATIVITY was written to help other writers employ activities like journaling, exercise, relaxation, nutrition, & creative play to realize their creative goals. Nice blog, by the way!
    Joy Held

  6. Joy,
    I could definitely use more exercise! Writing can be such a sedentary career.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I get my best ideas when I'm alone and have no distractions--children, internet, TV... But that doesn't happen often. :)


  8. I know what you mean Melissa. The internet can be a great thing when researching but I have a bad habit of getting lost on rabbit trails that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Or I wind up on Facebook, wasting valuable writing time.

  9. Lilly,
    Being fascinated certainly can lead to inspiration and innovation.
    When I ask my self the question: I wonder why that is?" - I can easily get inspired to study about that point of curiosity continuously for 5~10 hours. That's not time waste or ADD-driven chaos. That's my soul talking.
    Then I will journal for pages the observations, insights and new questions arising in my mind from my mind flow.
    What pulls me to write, read, listen or watch anything is to understand the meaning of my life.
    The people and situations we attract can challenge our small minds to see a bigger, more integrated whole.
    Call that God-consciousness, nirvana, enlightenment, Jesus light or whatever...our imagination is a catalyst and indication of our divine purpose.
    The line between romance, paranormal, mystery, non-fiction or whatever other label tickles your fancy is just an indication of how you like to learn and to express.
    At the end of the day, all the elements of literary expression are part of our journey toward accepting our perfection unconditionally, regardless of results and the emotions we attach to them.

  10. Great post, Lilly. I get inspired when I read an article or hear the TV news and think, "No, wouldn't it be a better story if..." Also, travel gives me ideas. I don't mean long trips, although that's my favorite, but even a drive locally puts ideas in my head. For instance, I see a vacant, run down house and start visualizing the family who built it and what could have happened. Even when writers are motionless, our minds are active. LOL

  11. Richard,love this line! "The people and situations we attract can challenge our small minds to see a bigger, more integrated whole."
    And Caroline, I know what you mean about abandoned houses. There's something about them that tugs at my heart. I hate to see a home or a business in disrepair. And it does trigger those imaginative juices!