February 25, 2013

The Books That Inspire My Books























I was thumbing through my bookshelves a couple days ago when I came across my much-loved Percy Jackson novels. With a grin, I pulled out one of the books and felt a rush of memories fly through me.

Oh hello there, Percy, I thought to myself, I remember you!

See, when I started writing my first book five years ago (gulp! has it been that long?), you could often find me perched on the sofa with my laptop, a cup of tea, and a Percy Jackson novel next to me. I wanted my little book to be just like Percy when it grew up: with a hero to root for, a world you wanted to live in, and a story that stayed with you long after you put it down. Lofty goals, for sure! I was rather ambitious, hmm?

Ah, youth!

Sadly my first novel didn't sell, but I've kept up the tradition of choosing an "inspiration" book for every manuscript I've written since. Whenever I get stuck in a rut or feeling lost in a draft, I grab my inspiration novel and flip through the pages, and—well—get inspired.

For instance, my second book was a YA alternate history that I wanted to be uber action-packed. Like, soldiers with superpowers! Secret revolutions! Killin' Nazis! (I have a weird brain, okay?) Yet, more importantly, I wanted to create a heroine who would give the story a heart. And so, the obvious choice for my inspiration book was The Hunger Games. Honestly, can I be Suzanne Collins when I grow up? As I was drafting Anomaly, there were so many times when I would pick up THG and whimper a little because I felt so inadequate. Collins has this amazing knack for weaving heart-stopping plots and crafting fleshed-out worlds and creating characters who come to life so vividly in my mind. (Oh Rue!)

On a side note, I'd like to switch brains with you, Suzanne.

Lastly, as I draft my new YA fantasy, I've been reading and re-reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone. This book. Oh, this book. The characters. The incredible world. That moment when you finally learn who Karou really is. I know I can never be as creative as Laini Taylor, but I hope by studying her plot and her prose that my own work will be just a little bit better.

On another note, I'd like to switch brains with you too, Laini.

Anyway, do any of you guys use an inspiration book when you're working on a draft? If so, I'd love to hear what they are! And if not, how do you get inspired when you're writing?

Happy Monday!

15 comments:

  1. I don't have books I read when I'm writing (I think it would get too into my head), but I do have books that I love because of the writing. I pick these up to skim, and the language is just inspiring! My go-to for that is Ray Bradbury's From the Dust Returned and Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. The writing is so effortlessly poetic and magical!

    Laini Taylor is totally a new source of inspiration though. Her writing and imagination is just awesome - like in the actual sense of the word. I totally agree with you about Percy Jackson and the Hunger Games too though!

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    1. Ahh, you had me at Ray Bradbury! I saw his picture on the Oscar's last night (during the In Memoriam part) and it made me so sad. You will be missed, Mr. Bradbury!

      And I'm so glad that you love Laini Taylor too! I really can't wait for Book 3 in her trilogy. I have to know what happens to Karou and Akiva!

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  2. I don't have much time to read, but I do like to listen to audio books. I always like to listen to books that are similar genre, or characters that inspire my current writing project. So I totally get what you're saying. :-)

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    1. Ah, that is so cool, Anita! I never even thought about listening to audiobooks while I was writing. I will definitely have to try that!

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  3. I'm sorry. Did you say you're working on a FANTASY???? *dances the Samba* YAY!

    On another note, my WIP was inspired by a LOTR character and a character from Greek history. I didn't re-read LOTR while drafting, but I mean to do so later this year. Perhaps during the summer. You know, when grad school's out. *topples over from to-do list*

    And I totes second your Percy and Suzanne love. I've yet to read Laini's work, but judging by her blog posts, she's a certified genius.

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    1. Yes, I can't believe it has taken me so long to write a fantasy! It is so much fun!

      Ohh, I love your inspiration for your WIP! LOTR + Greek history? OMG, yes, please! Write it now!

      And you *have* to read Daughter of Smoke & Bone whenever you get the chance--it's probably my favorite YA novel!

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  4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Hunger Games are spectacular and make any writer (other than the actual authors themselves) feel inadequate. I have yet to read the Percy Jackson series, but I've been meaning to.

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    1. Haha, I definitely hear you about feeling inadequate whenever I read DoS&B or The Hunger Games! I just want to bow down to these books and say a la Wayne's World, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

      Definitely check out the Percy Jackson series if you're ever in an MG mood! It's one of the few series where I felt that the middle books and concluding book was as strong as Book 1.

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  5. I think I look for inspiration more generally in my reading. When I was working on my sci-fi WIP, I tended towards reading sci-fi. Now that I'm writing a contemporary, I find myself migrating toward other contemporary stories to help get me in the zone.

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    1. Ohhh, I love that you have a sci-fi WIP! Sci-fi is probably my favorite genre so I really hope I can read your book someday!

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  6. I totally know what you mean. I definitely have those inspirational books. Probably plural, not singular, but your post is making me think there might be a lot of value in picking one sort of "muse" book ... hmm *ponders*

    I will say that I find that when I'm working on a WIP, I need to distance myself a bit from reading in that genre. I'll read and read and read piles of things in-and-around that genre beforehand, and then when I actually start writing, I find that it's refreshing to cut back and read totally out-of genre.

    AND holy night Daughter of Smoke and Bone just totally floored me when I read it this last summer. So. Good.

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    1. Hi Carissa! Thank you so very much for your comment!

      I totally hear what you're saying about reading outside of your chosen writing genre. Sometimes I have to do that too because I feel like my brain gets too confused! Haha.

      And yes, isn't Daughter of Smoke & Bone so good?! I can't stop marveling at the world that Laini Taylor created. So imaginative!

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  7. I don't have long time to read, but I do like to listen to audio books.Thanks for sharing this post.

    The Equation book

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Henry! I will definitely have to listen to some audiobooks with my current WIP. Fortunately, my library has an extensive collection!

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  8. I'm writing a YA sci-fi, but do read Laini Taylor for inspiration. In fact, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE and its sequel are the only 2 novels I brought with me to dental school, that's how much I love her prose and the careful way she constructed her scenes. :)

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