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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inspiration from Research

Please welcome guest blogger Crista McHugh

Have you ever sat down to research something only to be attacked by a giant plot bunny? We’re talking plot bunnies of the horrible creature from Monty Python and the Holy Grail magnitude. The ones that leave your current WIP dripping blood like King Arthur’s knights.

As paranormal/fantasy/futuristic writers, we may not be as familiar with research as our historical brethren, but it’s amazing what story ideas you can find when digging into good ol’ fashioned research. For example, I’m sure most of us have read some myths or legends to get ideas for our story. My Steampunk Western, The Alchemy of Desire, was inspired by Lakota myth. We probably “borrow” ideas from Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Dracula more than we realize. And these are natural places for use to find inspiration from our research.

But what about those odd things that we stumble across? For example, do any of you get bombarded by plot bunnies when you see a picture of the Cave of the Giant Crystals? (and no, this is NOT Superman’s secret lair)

I actually got inspired to write Kiss of Temptation from a documentary on the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii. The archeologists were examining the bones of the victims in Herculaneum and theorized that most of the victims had been burned alive. Of course, my twisted brain went, “How cool is that!” and immediately created a vampire character that was terrified of being caught in the sun and burned alive (because my vampires don’t glitter like disco balls – sorry Team Edward).

What were some of the more unusual things that inspired your stories? A coin? An outfit? A news article that made you go, “What if…?”

Growing up in small-town Alabama, Crista relied on storytelling as a natural way for her to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.

She currently lives in the Seattle area with her husband and daughter, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends. Her writing has won more than 20 awards.

Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she's had in order to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant and autopsy assistant.

And she's also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days.)

For the latest updates and to learn more, please check out her webpage at www.cristamchugh.com.

Kiss of Temptation

She was sent to make him burn…

The Kavanaugh Foundation, Book 3

It takes a witch to outwit another witch, so when Daniela finds herself in the catacombs of Rome intent on retrieving the legendary Staff of Octavius, she’s prepared to wield her innate fire magic to claim the staff and keep it—and its overwhelming power—from getting into the wrong hands.

All her Foundation training, however, never prepared her for Luc.

One breath of her scent is enough to reawaken a thirst Luc hasn’t felt in six hundred years. It’s enough to make him almost forget his vow to keep the staff out of the wrong hands—and to never give in to his bloodlust. The moment he touches Daniela, the last shreds of his humanity revive with a violent fury and drive him to claim her…blood, body and soul.

He’s her enemy. He’s arrogant and infuriatingly secretive. And his kiss makes her want things she shouldn’t—like abandoning her mission to spend eternity in his arms. Crossing that line, though, could not only send them up in flames…it could condemn all mankind to hell on earth.

Product Warnings

Contains a smolderingly hot (literally!) witch, a sexy, brooding vampire, wild sex you want to sink your teeth into, and a sensually charged romance that spans several lifetimes.


Darla M Sands said...

I've definitely been inspired by research, usually some historical event, I guess, though I may not use that event in the story itself. However it happens, it's a fun and rewarding side effect! Happy writing!

Monica Stoner said...

Yeah, those darned plot bunnies have been driving me NUTS. What was supposed to be an erotic novella is now at least a five book fantasy epic and characters keep hopping in. Have tried to send the Salukis after them, but darned if they don't all gang up on me
Doesn't help that the husband painted a blue eyed hunting hound and created another species!!

Julianne said...

I do *more* research for my fantasy pieces--and especially my science fiction (AkA Futuristic) pieces--than I do for any other story. Seriously. If you are not doing mucho research for that futuristic, you don't stand a chance with hardcore science fiction readers. It's true. In fact I've read very critical and nasty reviews of futuristic romance novels simply based on the fact that the author's knowledge of scientfic concepts is lacking. Yikes!If that isn't scary I don't know what is. So writer beware. Do your research. And, hey, at least it does give rise to more plot bunnies.

Janni Nell said...

I'm inspired by myths and legends. That's the starting point for each of my books. Of course, I reserve the right to embellish those myths if the plot demands. ;-)

The Alchemy of Desire is on my Kobo. Looking forward to reading it.

Debby Lee said...

Hi Christa, my inspiration tends to come from comnbining two very different elemants and then asking what if? I have a short story loosely based on Thumbelina but set during Woodstock and the Vietnam War era. I also have a pirate story drawn from pirates of the Regency era with elements of the song One Tin Soldier thrown in. A little strange I know, but hey, I'm a writer.

MiaMarlowe said...

I'm an intensely visual person, so art work inspires me. I met my latest heroine when she glared out of a Pino D'Angelico canvas at me and dared me to tell her story.

Jess said...

Traveling is the best kind of research!

Alexis Morgan said...

Great post! I was reading a book on women warriors in the past. They were excavating a grave and talking about the artifacts a woman had been buried with. That bothered me, wondering how those who had buried her with such care would feel about it. Then I realized to be around to care, the guy would have to be 1000 years old. Hmmm. That led to my first Talion hero--a 1000 yr old Viking named Ranulf. Love when that happens.

Sharla Rae said...

Happens to me all the time! I get my best ideas from research. Glad I'm not the only one. Shar

Crista said...

Hi everyone! Thank you all for leaving comments. Sorry it's taken me so long to respond -- I'm in the process of moving.

Darla, I agree that just an historical event can be inspirational. For example, I love to imagine how different people would view something like the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the storming of the Normandy beaches on D-day. It's great for character development.

Monica, YIKES! You've received the full onslaught of those plot bunnies! Best of luck to you on that series (and blue-eyed hound dogs sound awesome!)

Julianne, that's the very reason why I've been terrified to write SciFi. My DH is a hardware engineer and huge hard-core SF fan. I would have to ask him to pick apart all my technical stuff if I ever wrote SF.

Janni, I love myths for that reason - they leave so much room for embellishment. I hope you enjoy Alchemy!

Debby, there's nothing strange about combining those two unrelated things and asking "what if?" In fact, that's a great way to come up with a one line pitch when you're trying to sell those stories. You're leaps ahead of folks like me to try to up with it after I write the story. :-)

Mia, that's an awesome idea to look at paintings for inspiration -- sort of like The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I see a trip to the Met in store for me this summer.

Jess, amen!! I so need to do more "research" of that variety. Hmm... maybe if I write a story about Hawaii... ;-)

Alexis, BINGO! That's exactly what's happened to me a number of times. I get sooo many ideas from National Geographic and the History Channel. (BTW - I have Dark Warrior Unleashed in my TBR pile -- might have to move it closer to the top)

Sharla, glad to know I'm in good company, too. As FF&P writers, people tend to think we make all this stuff up. They never understand that we get so many ideas from research/curiosity.