Penny Dreadful

I’ve just returned from a family reunion in Belfast and Dublin and everywhere I went there were reminders of how many great authors and poets have come from the green isles. You could be walking down a street and find a quote from work by Yeats or Oscar Wilde, to name but two, and I found it extremely inspirational.

Some of the places I visited gave me loads of ideas for my next series of books and it goes to show that you can get inspiration from almost anywhere, if only you take the time to look.

Dublin Castle was one such place. I didn’t go inside, it was the events unfolding in the courtyard that caught my attention. There were roped-off areas with old fashioned market stalls; some were the type that were on wheeled carts and others were static. As I looked around at the ‘wares’ it felt like I’d stepped back in time and it was a strange sensation. Suddenly I was in Victorian London and all around me were people dressed from that era. As I stared, drinking in the sights, I could picture certain scenes for my Seven Doors series and I couldn’t wait to write it down.

But what was happening there? Was it an exhibition the castle had staged? No. The reason certain areas were roped off was because an episode of the TV series, Penny Dreadful, was being filmed (although I didn’t realise that until I saw actress Billie Piper dressed in Victorian finery and boom mikes and camera equipment being wheeled or carried into the courtyard).

Rehearsal before filming

Rehearsal before filming

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard. This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it's all part of the memory.

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard.
This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it’s all part of the memory.

I took a few photos (as you do) and on the bus back to the hotel I took out my little pad and scribbled notes about the objects and scenes which had most inspired me. I know at least some of it will appear in one of the books in my upcoming Seven Doors series, but it certainly won’t be in the first one.

It certainly proves the point about inspiration. You never know what’s around to ignite that spark which sends your imagination into overdrive. So open your eyes, take the time to look around you, and make sure you have a pad and pen handy!

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#BlogFlash2013 Day 4 – Books

Today’s prompt is one of my favourite subjects, ever – books. Enjoy!

Books

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Ellie, with pearly tears trickling down her cheeks, ran to her bedroom and threw herself on the bed. Another horrendous day at school; the bullies were relentless and she sported the bruises to prove it.

She wanted to rail at the world, lash out and sob yet knew it wouldn’t change how wretched she felt. Only one thing did – her books.

Grabbing a tome, Ellie dived into the wondrous world depicted on the pages. Enveloped in the magical lands of fairies and elves, her imagination soared and she began to find peace. The agony dissolved and wrapped in enchantment, she smiled.

bully2

A Flash of Inspiration – Or Is It?

The next post to appear for the Heart Search Blog Tour was written for C M Skiera. He gave me the topic of inspiration to write about and I decided I was going to do something a little different for this one. Here is the end result.

Inspiration – what does that word mean to you? In the dictionary it’s defined as:            1. Stimulation to do creative work; stimulation for the human mind to creative thought or to the making of art [found inspiration in the landscape around her]. 2. Somebody or something that inspires; somebody or something that inspires somebody to creative thought or to the making of art [His book is an inspiration to all would-be travellers]. 3. Creativeness; the quality of being stimulated to create thought or activity, or the manifestation of this [a moment of inspiration].

As writers we all need inspiration to put pen to paper or our fingers on the keyboard. Yet there’s a missing ingredient here – imagination. To me, inspiration and imagination go hand in hand, like eggs and bacon or toast and marmalade. Yes you can have eggs without the bacon or toast without the marmalade, but will it taste as good?

So let’s explore imagination for a minute. As children we had truckloads of it; we would do drawing and paintings, play with dolls or toy soldiers making things up as we went along yet as we grow into adulthood our imagination seems to get stifled by life. Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to let our imagination run riot when we’re worried about paying bills, work, and maybe we’ve got kids and a spouse. But to be a writer we need to allow our imagination out of its box and go wild.

The dictionary defines imagination as: 1. Ability to visualise; the ability to form images and ideas in the mind, especially of things never seen or experienced directly. 2. Creative part of mind; the part of the mind where ideas, thoughts and images are formed.

Do you see the link between the two definitions?

Okay, so let’s put the two together and see what we get. Your scenario is – you’re out for a drive in the countryside and you come across a little church tucked away behind some trees or bushes. You’re intrigued so you stop for a closer look. It’s just a small abandoned church with weeds and overgrown grass in the yard. Or is it? Now let your imagination soar . . .

Why is the church abandoned? Perhaps it was used for pagan or satanic worship and a posse of god-fearing folk drove them out. Maybe there was a small town around the church at one time – what happened to the people and houses? Did a plague wipe out the town and the homes razed to the ground to eradicate the disease? Was there something supernatural which drove the people away, like a poltergeist? Perhaps a serial killer methodically wiped out the town, one family at a time. Did extra-terrestrials have something to do with it?

Going back to the church itself, is something hidden in the crypt, something magical? Is someone or something evil buried beneath the church? Is the crypt now used as a vampire’s resting place? And what about the churchyard – have the grass and weeds been allowed to grow wild to hide something? If so, what could it be? Do some of the gravestones hide clues to a secret treasure or symbols to summon demonic forces.

Now you’ve let your imagination picture all these possibilities for a simple abandoned church, you have created the inspiration to work some magic with it. Now you can grab your keyboard or pad and pen and begin to sketch out a story. Once you’ve decided which scenario you’re going to write about you can then start thinking about characters and building your plot.

Anything you see, no matter how ordinary can be made extraordinary just by using your imagination. This also applies to people. A man walking down the street looking shabby could be a millionaire, a celebrity in disguise, a spy, a witch hunter, a wizard or a homeless ex-soldier.

If you struggle to find inspiration for your writing it’s probably because you’re not allowing your imagination to feed it. So as you travel to work, walk down the shops or out in the countryside, or drive somewhere in your car, really open your eyes, let your imagination take flight and allow yourself to be inspired.

The lesson from this is that inspiration is all around us – we’ve just got to open our eyes and see!

Aftermath #BlogFlash2012

Hi. I felt a little lost this morning. For the last 30 days we had the task of wrestling with a prompt, trying to come up with something creative and entertaining yet staying within the word limit. It was no easy task I can tell you – but I loved every minute of it! There’s nothing like stretching those creative muscles in the brain to set you up for the day! I’d like to share with you some of my experiences from taking part in this event and my feelings about it.

 

To begin with, the support and encouragement we all received from Terri Giuliano Long was fantastic. She was a superb host, came up with some challenging prompts for us and made a point of commenting on our work every day. We all owe her a huge debt of thanks. Her posts were pretty awesome and very insightful on occasions too!

Part of the challenge was to visit at least 5 other blogs each day to see what they’d written and leave a comment. I think I ended up visiting virtually all the blogs almost every day, but it was so worth it. All the people who took part in this challenge are wonderfully talented and it was interesting to see how many different takes came from the same prompt. Some of the people even did a series for the whole 30 days, leaving us in suspense until Day 30 to find out whether there was a happy or successful ending; the way these writers worked the prompts into their stories was awesome and incredibly creative.

I feel I’ve made some great new friends from taking part in #BlogFlash2012 and fully intend to keep in contact with them, either through their blogs or on Twitter. I’ll miss the day to day interaction with them though. Those that visited this blog left lovely and encouraging comments about my writing, which has boosted my confidence.

I’ve also had some awesome comments from my followers who aren’t involved in the challenge too – thank you all for your great support!

As for me, wearing my writer’s hat, I believe I’ve grown even more in my ability by taking part in this challenge. Some of the prompts were quite easy to write about, some dregged up painful memories and beautiful ones too, but some really stretched my imagination as well as my writing skills. It’s not easy to tell a story in 100 words or less. Ultimately, I feel that my writing has improved, and I proved to myself that I can write in genres other than just fantasy. I’m very sad it’s over!

So, would I take part in the next #BlogFlash? You try stopping me!!