Monday, November 30, 2020

Where Does My Inspiration Come From?

Greetings to all!  This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it sure was different from any Thanksgiving I had seen in my lifetime.  During the time of Covid-19, everyone has had to change their daily routines and come to know what the term social distancing means all too well.

I have been blessed (and admittedly annoyed) at times that by the nature of my job I was less severely impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns than others.  However, and I have dealt with this issue my entire adult life, often I find myself exhausted or too drained to write or research after a long day of work or school.  Though I am certain countless other would-be authors have experienced that same issue.  So, I am doing my utmost to maintain my promise to the three people who read this blog to post every two weeks.

Now to the meat and potatoes of this blog.  Where does my inspiration come from?  Well, that question requires a little bit of back story on myself.  One side of my family is from Louisiana and I myself have lived in southeast Louisiana and the New Orleans area my entire life.  Where someone has been raised and lived influences their personality and worldview, and that is certainly true for me.  Though I have travelled all throughout the U.S. and parts of Canada as well, I have always lived in Louisiana.  Additionally, though three of my four grandparents were born in the U.S., each was of a distinct Old-World ethnic group. 

With a Bachelor’s in History degree from the University of New Orleans, I have maintained a lifelong interest in the study of history.  The nature of my job allows me to listen to audio books and podcasts most of the working day, and I generally listen to a program about some historical event or a fantasy book. 

My hometown, family story, and study of history have given me ample inspiration for creating my own fantasy world and creating believable characters.  But do not get me wrong and believe that I copy and paste from either world history or my own background in my writing.  I like to view my fantasy world more like an echo of our own earth.  When a reader reads my books, I want my world to feel familiar and yet alien at the same time.  There are empires, countries and continents that will look and sound very familiar to places in the real world.  For example, I have the Gallanese Kingdom that will echo some aspects of both ancient Greece and Rome, and I have incorporated cultural and linguistic qualities from the real world into this creation.  However, it is not a carbon copy and I have gone to great lengths to create a unique geography, culture, and history for this kingdom.  This technique will be featured throughout my entire series, with characters that and places that will shadow and echo the real world.  In many ways, George R. R. Martin is an inspiration for me to follow.  The Song Ice and Fire Universe is completely fictitious, yet Martin has been quoted that his works are historical fiction because he borrows heavily from the history of the British Isles, the City States of the Renaissance, and general Eurasian history.

One of the most common pieces of advice given to authors is to write what you know.  I take this to heart, especially since I do not feel comfortable presenting information I am not familiar with.  Most of the time when I am describing a scene, I have either an image or something akin to a movie playing in my mind and therefore my process is in essence the description of that scene.  But those images and scenes I am seeing in my mind, where do they come from?  Many come from the landscape of southeast Louisiana or of people I have come across in my life.  In my travels, especially within the last decade, I have been to national parks either in the U.S. or Canada and have more than once paused and “filmed” a scene in my mind within the surrounding landscape.

Quoting author Craig Martell, the goal of writing is to entertain and teach.   My goal in writing my stories is not to preach or be on a soapbox, but I do feel there has to be an emotional attachment to the story and characters for the reader to have a connection to the story.  At least that is how I become invested in a book or series; the characters must mean something to me.  In my previous blog, I go into detail as to why Tam al’Thor fits this very role for me. 

I began creating my fantasy world and writing within it almost 20 years ago.  I was attending high school in New Orleans and like many kids that age, I thought I knew everything.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think I have a decent amount of intelligence, but I am thankful I never got around to publishing those first stories.   I could have read all the books or watched all the movies I dreamed of to help build my perspective on how people live their lives, but life experiences I believe have helped to shape how I view the world and given me perspective that a sheltered high school kid would never have.  To experience joy, loss, friendship, love gained, love lost, and new love are experiences any book would have a hard time teaching what it really means to feel.  However, have you ever read a book when you can feel the very emotion of the author written into the characters?   In Tam al’Thor’s final scenes, I felt Jordan’s and Sanderson’s emotions as Tam bid good bye to his son.  That scene could only have been written by someone who had lived a full life and knew what in meant to feel love and loss.  Writing is a way for us to experience emotion in a unique way with a degree of separation between ourselves and the story.

We are in the holiday season and I hope that even in these strangest of times, you can experience joy and love with those you hold most dear. 

JAQ 

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