A miniscule thought that crosses my mind or an article I’ve read in a newspaper can light up like a distant sparkling star and inspire a story. If the spark grows and gains momentum, the concept might become a novel.
The spark in Revenge in Barcelona (my Nikki Garcia Mystery #3), was the city itself, its unique architecture, colorful history, rich culture, physical beauty, and its independent-minded people. The spark grew in my mind until I knew that Nikki should experience action, mystery, and danger in Barcelona.
The process of following a spark of inspiration is similar for many writers. Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises, was inspired by a trip to Pamplona, Spain, to witness the running of the bulls and bullfights at the week-long San Fermín festival. He’d intended to write a non-fiction book about bullfighting, which had become a passion for him. Instead, the book became fiction based on Hemingway and his friends. In it, he explored the themes of love and death, a total reversal of what he’d originally intended.
This reversal of original intention happens to many authors of fiction, me included. The spark starts out with one concept, and it morphs into a totally different one. Yet the original spark, such as Hemingway’s bullfights, are often woven into the novel either as a theme or subplot, while the full storyline becomes much broader, richer, more scintillating.
Last week, I started my 5th Nikki Garcia mystery. The spark that lit up my imagination was a belt buckle that a man was wearing. It featured a mule.
I knew at that moment that I had to weave a mule or two into Nikki’s next novel. And where can I put a few mules? In a wilderness adventure, of course!
What sparks your imagination?
All photos are used in an editorial or educational manner.
Sagrada Familia Steeples – Kathryn Lane
The Belt Buckle with a Mule – Pinterest