Friday, October 23, 2015

0 The Flows of Inspiration by Jennifer Donnelly

One of the questions authors are most often asked is "Where do you get your ideas from?" If you're like me, it's easier to answer where you DON'T get inspiration. Ideas shoot out at me from everywhere I go and everyone I see. Which is why I try to always have a notepad of some sort, whether paper or electrical, with me always. And my kids have made a joke of rolling their eyes and groaning every time they hear me say, "that would make a good story!"

I believe that, as writers, we have trained our minds, opened them, widened them, attuned them, to be receptive to these ideas that flutter about in the aether. Inspiration is there for one and all, but we creatives are the ones who notice and care. However, sometimes the trick is knowing which idea is fluttering by to catch our attention, and which should be released back into the wild for another writer. Not every idea I've had is my story to write. It's taken me several ears as a writer, developing and honing my voice and themes, to know which ideas to cherish and which to pat on their head and send them back on their way.

New York Times Best Selling Author Jennifer Donnelly is here with us today to share some of the ideas she captured and coaxed into a story that became her newest release in the WaterFire Sage - Dark Tide. Be sure to check it out at the end of the post. And please share in the comments how you corral all your inspirations!

The Flows of Inspiration: A Craft of Writing Post by Jennifer Donnelly

Inspiration for DARK TIDE, and the entire WaterFire Saga, comes from some pretty strange places.

As anyone who’s been to one of my readings knows, one of the biggest was the work of the designer Alexander McQueen, but another mad genius who has also been a huge source of ideas is Rene Redzepi, the chef behind NOMA in Copenhagen, one of the world’s best and most out-there restaurants.

I’ve never eaten at NOMA, but I’ve seen photos of the food and I’ve read Redzepi’s diaries and notebooks. (The ones he’s published, I mean. I didn’t, like, sneak into his room or anything!) His insane drive to make things new, and the result of that drive—food so wild and fey that it should be served at a midnight feast for Loki—fed my imagination.

A piece of a character’s personality, a dress, a mermaid’s meal, a villain’s dark motivations or a witch’s bright ones – Redzepi’s work sparked ideas for these things and more. His reverence for this beautiful planet that provides the raw materials for his art renewed my own. And his ability to transform those materials—whether common or rare—reminded me that it was my duty to do the same.

A deer antler found in a southern swamp, a whelk’s shell discovered on Nantucket’s shores, a bird’s skull gleaned from my own fields—these things also helped me create the characters of DARK TIDE, and their world. So did the breath-taking jeweled scimitars, daggers, and headdresses of sultans on display in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, or the fearsome arms and armor in the collection of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum.

Poems by Mary Oliver and Sylvia Plath, and couplets by William Shakespeare, made me see anew the awesome power of water to give life, or transform it. Or end it.

Walking through marshes, or along the edge of ponds, lakes, and seas, never failed to spark a sense of wonder. I was struck silent so many times by small, quiet things—the impossible dynamics of a dragonfly’s flight, the metallic sparkle of a frog’s eyes, the artistry of a spider’s web. And by large, fierce ones—breakers crashing on the shore, a pair of humpback whales diving, a glacier in Iceland cracking and groaning.

I think that if I had a spirit creature, it would be the magpie – that greedy, indiscriminate, beady-eyed thief who snatches shiny bits and pieces and flies off with them in her claws, as happy with a piece of sea glass as she is with a diamond.


Writers: Where do you find your shiny sea glass pieces of inspiration?

About the Book:
Once a lost and confused princess, Serafina is now a confident leader of the Black Fin Resistance (BFR). While she works on sabotaging her enemy and enlisting allies for battle, her friends face challenges of their own. Ling is in the hold of Rafe Mfeme's giant trawler, on her way to a prison camp. Becca meets up with Astrid and learns why the Ondalinian mermaid is always so angry: she is hiding a shameful secret. Ava can't return home, because death riders await her arrival. And it is getting more and more difficult for Mahdi, Serafina's betrothed, to keep up the ruse that he is in love with Lucia Volerno. If Lucia's parents become suspicious, his life--and all of Sera's hopes--will be extinguished. Political intrigue, dangerous liaisons, and spine-tingling suspense swirl like a maelstrom in this penultimate book in the WaterFire saga

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

About the Author:

Jennifer Donnelly is an award-winning author of both adult and young adult books, including Deep Blue and Rogue Wave, the first two books in the Waterfire Saga. For adults she has written a trilogy of best-selling books that includes The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. Her first young adult novel, A Northern Light, received many accolades, among them the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Carnegie Medal in the UK, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. Her second young adult novel, Revolution, was named a Best Book of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, and the audiobook received a 2011 American Library Association Odyssey Honor. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley. For more information, visit

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 -- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

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