This week I got a shipment of books in the mail. My books. My newest book. Not books for my publishing house, but books that I had actually written. It's been a very long time since I've had that feeling. Years, in fact. I was surprised to find that this one felt different from the last. It felt. . . bigger, somehow. More satisfying. I was with a dear friend when I opened the box, and after watching me for a while he said something that made a lot of sense. "You don't act like this is another book. You act like this is your first. 'Hunter' doesn't feel real to you does it?" And the answer is yes. .. and no. "Hunter the Horrible" is fantastic for what it is - an easy, commercial bit of brain candy that I wrote to prove that I could do it, and that sells very well. This, though? This is real. Velveteen rabbit real. I would like to tell you about it.
It all started about 25 years ago. (Bear with me, this will make sense.) My mom caught me reading a V.C. Andrews book. I didn't like it. I was actually pretty disturbed by it. However, I had read everything my school library had to offer, and all of my books were dogeared and worn with use and this was something that I was able to snatch from my stepmonster's bookcase and it was new and so there I was. At first she was furious, but she listened. She understood. Then she took me downstairs and pulled four books out of an old box of her things from high school. One of them, I didn't like. Three sit on my bookcase today and have affected me profoundly. Of those, one was "Flowers for Algernon." It was, and remains, one of my favorite books and is truly a modern masterpiece. I loved Charlie. I cheered for him and wept with him. My heart pounded as I pondered what it would be like to experience all that he did. That was the first piece.
Later, I joined a flash fiction writing challenge called The Iron Writer. Man, I loved that site, back in the day. The second challenge I entered required that I include a clockwork geisha, among other things. So, in that, Flower Town was born. It was a dystopian wreck of a place, a tourist town and New Japan gone to seed. A tiny little piece of a tiny piece of fiction. I didn't even win. Yet, Flower Town stuck with me. I couldn't seem to shake it. It just kept showing up, everywhere. That was the second piece.
Fast forward a year or so from then, and I was talking to a man named Brick Marlin, one of the authors I am lucky enough to represent, a great friend, and all around cool dude. He told me he was thinking of basing a character on me, one that had a brain implant that caused her to turn into a super badass when provoked. "Yeah," I said, "but knowing my luck it would glitch." We laughed and moved on to something else, but in that moment a seed was planted. And that seed grew. And it turned into kudzu in my brain. So, I abandoned the book that I was writing (Sorry, Tony Pepperoni and Hauseman Guild fans) to write what I was certain would be a short story. That short story took two years and over 70K words and culminated in the glorious piece of repurposed trees that I got in the mail this week.
Tomorrow, I will introduce you to Charlotte, and Aidian, and Basanti. And Daisy. Most of all, perhaps, Daisy. For tonight, though, tell me. .. where did you get your inspiration?