December 2, 2015

Tour Day: Jo March Discusses her Inspiration

This week Foreplay and Fangs welcomes author Jo March, touring with her short story The Queen's Heart. Jo lives in her own Wonderland—a place filled with books, animals and plenty of ways to exercise her imagination and creativity. She cannot remember not wanting to be a writer and indulges whenever she can. She lives in Cape Town and considers it the most beautiful place in the world to live. Visit her on Facebook.

Jo March
"On Inspiration"

Hi Brantwijn and thank you for having me on your amazing blog today.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to talk to your readers about and in the end it struck me... inspiration! 

I've always been a story teller.  As a small child, my stories were verbal, shared with any who dared cross my path. According to teachers, these were detailed and engaging and a clear indicator that my destiny lay in entertaining others in some way.  As I got older and school encouraged us to write essays and short stories, I discovered that this was a more permanent way of sharing the ideas and stories which played in my mind.  Here, I could capture them and revisit them whenever I wanted.  I was already a voracious reader, but this was the first time that I realised that the power to be a writer really did live in everyone... and magically, in me.

Over the years I toyed with the idea of being a writer, filling notebook after notebook with stories, character descriptions and ideas.  Naturally, these were often simple and half formed, but it was a good habit to cultivate and one that has certainly stood me in good stead as an adult writer.  These days, my notebooks are filled with inspiration for stories waiting to be written and characters fighting to be given life.  There are times I wish I could plug my brain into my laptop and simply download the stories fully formed.  It would be no less satisfying and certainly much quicker than crafting them letter by letter, word by word.

The truth is, many writers will tell you that often finding inspiration for the next story isn't the problem.  The problem is listening to see which story is speaking to you loudest, which is insisting that it be written next.  However, there have been times when I have sat down to write and found myself staring at that blessed, blinking cursor and... well... cursing it!  There are ways to overcome that though and here are some suggestions for things that work for me.

·       Visual Inspiration

Pinterest is the ultimate friend for an author.  There is nothing quite so inspiring as opening it up, searching "hot men", "fantasy", "writing tips", etc. and finding a plethora of visual stimuli to get you going.  True, you can lose hours of time in researching, but if you repin items that inspire you to a secret WIP board, you can save time later when you want to double check something or get a refresher.  There is a two-fold benefit to using Pinterest for inspiration. Not only do you benefit when you need to get writing, but when you are further along with the story, you can create a public board with the name of your book and share pics with fans and readers.  This will help to build up interest and excitement for the release of the story!

·       Musical Inspiration

I have found that sometimes when I cannot make the words flow... I turn to music. I have created private playlists on YouTube for different moods.  When I need to write something sad, I have music for that... happy, the same.  I also have a playlist that is just for "clearing the mind"... to borrow an idea from Grey's Anatomy, some "dance it off" music to get up and move to, turn my mind off and relax.  Usually, while I'm singing along or bopping round the living room, a fresh idea or a new direction for the chapter will come to me and then it's full steam ahead with the writing.

·       Collaboration

Don't be fooled by those who warn you never to talk to other writers about your ideas.  One of the biggest and best pieces of advice I was given early on is to find my "tribe". A group of authors that I can lean on when needed, a group of friends to share the journey with. I've been extremely fortunate to build a wonderful tribe and when nothing else helps, I can often be found online picking their brains or complaining about recalcitrant heroes or wishy-washy heroines.  There's no better resource for fresh perspectives on a problem than other authors who have most likely been there too and can not only relate, but offer truly constructive advice!

·       Abandon the problem

I would normally be all for battling it out, but sometimes the best thing to do is to stop trying to force inspiration to come to you in a story.  There are two options here.  The first is to save the current document and open a new one.   Now write... something... anything.  Something totally different to what you were working on. You'll feel a sense of achievement which will improve your mood and before you know it you will be back to what had you stuck not too long ago.  The second option is to stop where you are in your story, stop where you've hit a snag, and write a different scene from the story.  Perhaps you have to write a monumental fight between your lovers and you just can't capture the emotion quite right... well, try writing the bit where they make up instead.  You never know what your characters will reveal which may help you to go back and nail that earlier scene.

Of course, inspiration has been known to strike me at the oddest times and from unexpected sources.  A funny comment passed at a friend's dinner lead to an entire scene in one book.  A road trip was the inspiration for a romance between two characters stuck travelling cross-country together and listening to friends discussing relationships over a bottle of wine is an unending source of inspiration! 

The final and most important tip I have for you is this... read!  Read often.  Read anything and everything that appeals to you whether it is in your genre or not.  If you don't read, then the voices inside your head have to rely only on what you have personally experienced in order to tell their stories, but with every story you read, their worlds grow and their stories evolve and therefore, so does your writing!


Clarissa could never have foreseen the magic a simple hatter could bring to her life.

As queen of Wonderland, Clarissa should have been secure in her position, but Alice sought to change all that. A clause in the dead king's will only serves to spur on their childhood rivalry. Alice will stop at nothing to take the throne for herself.  The best laid plans can go awry though and it's only a matter of time until the true queen of Wonderland will be crowned for good.


"Who are you?"

"I'm just a simple hatter, miss. Newly arrived here to ply my trade at court."

"Interesting. Well, don't let me keep you..."

At her dismissive tone, the hatter raised his eyes and stared at her for a moment. "Did anyone ever tell you that you're awfully bossy? I'm sure the queen herself isn't as bossy as you!"

"Not lately, no, and since you are new here, you may want to wait until you meet the queen to decide what she's like." Stepping to one side on the path, she cocked her head at the exit. "I believe you were just leaving?"

Slowly he walked toward her, closing the distance between them until he towered over her. Realizing that it might not be safe to be alone with this stranger, she was tempted to take a step backward, but one look at the expression on his face showed that he was expecting her to be intimidated. Resolutely she stood her ground. Staring defiantly up at him, she crossed her arms defensively across her chest.

"Am I in your way?"

"Not at all." And with that he dropped his lips to hers. The kiss was gentle at first—their mouths the only point of contact between them—but within moments, his tongue had teased her lips apart and his hands were buried in her hair, drawing her nearer. Of their own volition, her hands explored the planes of his chest through the cotton shirt he wore, and her fingers memorized every detail.

Without warning he pulled away, his breathing ragged. His gaze bore into hers and she felt as if he were reading every thought that flashed across her mind. Her heart fluttered like a trapped butterfly in her chest—the sound so loud that she felt sure he must be able to hear it. With extraordinary gentleness, he ran the back of his hand slowly down her cheek before stepping quietly past her and leaving the garden.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?