Every writer finds inspiration through different sources. I’m very pleased to host author Kallysten today as she shares what gets her creative juices flowing. The following teaser from Ward of the Vampire should get your juices flowing!
There’s a question writers get asked all the time and sometimes start to dread. I know I did, and I used to shrug and smile a bit awkwardly as I tried to answer.
“Where do you get your ideas?”
It’s a legitimate question. Where do ideas come from? Is there a special, secret box somewhere in which an aspiring author only needs to look to find a perfect plot and well defined characters, or even just that ‘haha!’ moment that begins a story?
For a long time, I replied that I didn’t know where my ideas came from, and that I just wrote what tickled my muse. I’ve come to realize that’s not always true, and most of the time I can trace back the beginning of a story to the spark that gave it life.
For example, a couple of my books have their origin in traditional tales from my childhood that I adapted and tweaked until only the main idea remained. In ‘A Kiss of Blood,’ it’s Snow White I played with, and especially the kiss at the end that wakes her up; it has a very different meaning when it takes place between two vampires…
In ‘Blue Hair and 7 PAs’ I reimagined Blue Beard and his seven wives. No murder in my story, no dead wives, no hirsute pirate, but a demanding movie star with a secret and his long-suffering personal assistant who holds the key to a door he’s not supposed to open.
Sometimes, the inspiration is not as direct. My YA alter-ego Angela Yseult has a story that came to be after I read a news article about a never-contacted tribe in the jungle being photographed from a helicopter; in the book, a virgin planet and its inhabitants are being observed from afar by a more advanced civilization… until the observation shuttle crashes to the planet and the observer meets one of her subjects.
More recently, I took the plot device from two movies I’d seen and made it my own. In my world, the anterograde amnesia depicted in Memento and Fifty First Dates – the inability to form new memories and recall recent events – affects a doctor and his evolving relationship with his best friend-slash-new lover.
Same thing for my epistolary novella ‘No Crayons On The Frontline.’ The idea of writing the story as a series of letter came after I watched a video of an actor I might have a crush on reading love letters during a special event.
Sometimes – and you’ll forgive me if it sounds self-centered – I inspire myself..!
What I mean is, a throwaway line in one book or something that was only alluded to but not truly explored becomes the initial point for a new book. In my first novel CheckMate I mentioned a dancing club that was owned by a human and his two vampire lovers… and that line bugged me until I had to write about these three people and how they came together. In the Lullabies series, the two heroes have a relationship that sometimes borders on BDSM without ever truly going that far, and I had to scratch that itch, so to speak, in the ‘His Sire’ series.
It can also be just the form of a story that prods my muse onward: recently I was listening to the audiobook for one of my series which is narrated by the heroine, and as I realized I hadn’t written in the first person since finishing that story I just had to start a new first-person story right there and then, and never mind that I was in the middle of writing a novel! I thought I’d keep it short, but it ended up becoming the ‘Ward of the Vampire’ serial with five installments and over 160.000 words.
So, when someone asks me where I get my ideas, I no longer shrug and say I don’t know. I can honestly say they come from everywhere: everything I know, everything I’ve seen or read or witnessed in some way, everything I’ve done. It’s not a secret locked box my muse opens. It’s the entire world!
Ward of the Vampire
It’s THE party of the season. Socialites, artists and A-list stars have been invited to Morgan Ward’s birthday bash, including Angelina’s boss, Delilah.
For months, Angelina has been looking at the preparations from afar, but never did she imagine that, come the day, Miss Delilah would put her in a gorgeous gown and bring her along as her ‘plus one.’
Wandering from crowded room to crowded room in the sumptuous mansion, Angelina grows overwhelmed and escapes onto a balcony, only to find it occupied by her host. That first meeting leaves her struggling for her very life, but she soon gets an unexpected do-over.
Meeting Morgan Ward for the first time all over again, Angelina finds herself falling into his arms… But is it all only a fantasy?
I don’t know how long I toured the first floor. I wandered until I found myself in front of a wide marble staircase. It looked inviting. Music was drifting down, melding with the fast pieces the string quartet in the front had been playing one after the other since I arrived. I went up.
And I was stunned to realize that the second floor was identical to the first: artwork, antique furniture, room after room full of noise and beauty and people I recognized but didn’t dare talk to. And everything everywhere was red and black.
It was overwhelming. Or maybe I should have had something to eat along with those two—three?—glasses of champagne.
Feeling a little lightheaded, I looked around for a bit of quiet and solitude, but guests were everywhere. When I passed by heavy curtains, I lifted a corner, and was almost relieved to get a glimpse of a balcony behind a window.
I checked that no one was paying attention to me, then slipped behind the curtain and opened the window. It was only when I stepped onto the balcony that I realized someone was already there.
He was leaning forward, one elbow resting on the ornate stone balustrade, his chin propped in his palm. His hair was darker than ink. When he glanced back, I barely saw the cigarette hanging from his lips.
My eyes went straight to his, and I couldn’t suppress a quiet gasp. They were so dark that they seemed completely black. I knew it was only because of the lack of light, but just the same, that look made me shiver. That, and the cold December air. He didn’t seem to mind the cold at all. He’d taken his tuxedo jacket off, and it rested on the balustrade next to him.
“The freaking party’s inside,” he said in an exhalation of smoke, looking away again. “Go back in and leave me the hell alone.”
At any other time, I’d have stammered an apology and gone back in. I honestly don’t know what came over me. Maybe it was the champagne. Maybe I simply couldn’t stand going back to all that noise, all those people quite yet. Maybe it was the smoke; I quit a long time ago, but when I’m stressed I still crave nicotine. Or maybe I was just tired of doing what other people told me to.
“I don’t think so,” I replied, stepping to the other end of the balcony, as far away from him and from that delicious smoke as I could. “Why go in and enjoy the company of so many pleasant people when I can be out here with a jerk?”
I was looking down at the park on the other side of the street, but from the corner of my eye I could see him turn his face to me, the end of the cigarette flaring bright red when he sucked in a breath.
“Why indeed inflict such charm on them,” he drawled, “when you can focus it on me? Name your price, already and go.”
I turned fully toward him, outraged. “My price?” I repeated, probably in a too loud voice. “My price for what? Who do you think I am?”
“I have no idea whatsoever who you are,” he said, looking away from me again. “But I know your kind. I know why you come to parties like this, showing skin halfway down to your navel.”
I gasped in disbelief, my free hand instinctively coming up to the exposed skin above the top of my gown. Compared to some other décolleté dresses I’d seen that night, mine was nothing if not conservative. And it definitely didn’t go down to my navel.
“How dare you,” I started, but he wasn’t finished.
“Your kind only wants two things. To meet famous people or to swindle money out of them. Either go back in or name your price. Or would you rather I get you thrown out of my home?”
My outrage and protests vanished in the time of a heartbeat, as I understood who he was.
My home, he’d said.
I shuddered as I remembered Miss Delilah’s admonition. She’d told me to be nice. And instead…
My heart jumped to my throat. My chest constricted until I couldn’t breathe anymore. Every inch of my body felt as though my skin were being sliced with shards of glass.
I knew only two things in that instant. I was in front of Morgan Ward, my host, Miss Delilah’s brother, whom I’d been rude to. And I was about to die.
This is the first part out of 5 of the Ward of the Vampire serial. This installment is available for free. The next 4 can be purchased individually for 99 cents each.
Kallysten is a writer of (mostly) paranormal stories, ranging from short stories to very long novels, standalones and series, M/F, M/M and various combinations thereof. You can see her stories on her website at http://original.kallysten.net. Subscribe to her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/kiWSb and receive the link to download a free M/F/M short story.