Love Starved: let’s talk inspiration

10points4dumbledore asked:

I am waiting for your book with baited breath. What was your inspiration for Love Starved?

Thank you! (And let me tell you, seeing the words “your book” still gets my heart all fluttery…)

Let’s talk inspiration 🙂

Love Starved, like so many of my other ideas, was born from a random plot bunny that got stuck in my head and grew into something much bigger than I ever expected. In this case, what sparked the fire was a single sentence I saw somewhere on the internet, years ago: Show me what it’s like to feel loved.

“Aw, what a sweet sentiment,” I thought, and scrolled past to other shiny things.

But the little bunny was persistent. Over months and years, it kept popping up occasionally, bringing plot suggestions along:
“So, how about two young people in their first serious relationship?”
“Too vague? Okay, what if one of them has never been loved?”
“Or, you know what, let’s give one of them some bad past experiences, how about that?”
“Nothing? Really? So what would be the weirdest situation for such a request?”

It took years; the sentence sat in my inspiration folder and on my “to-write” board, the plot simmering and crystallizing somewhere on the back burner, but its time eventually came when I decided it needed an original, not fanfiction setting. I took it out, dusted it off and lovingly weaved it into a story about a disenchanted romantic, an escort who prides himself on fulfilling every fantasy, and an impossible, desperate request: Show me what it’s like to feel loved.

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How to catch a plot bunny

Bunny1

A few weeks ago, I started posting what I call “daily plot bunnies” on my Twitter. (Almost) every day, I tweet about little things that have caught my attention and given me a spark of inspiration on that particular day: some words I heard or read, a thought, a picture, a song, anything. I tag them with #DailyPlotBunny.

These are not things I’m working on right now, nor are they direct story prompts. Plot bunnies are more like story seeds, except I do visualize them as bouncy, wiggly little creatures, very much alive, that grow and move around and have minds of their own. Sometimes they meet other bunnies they like and they breed, creating a herd. (A fluffle. It’s totally called a fluffle, at least in parts of Canada. How cute is that? I want to move to Canada.) If you’re not careful, said fluffle may then take over your brain, monopolizing your attention and feeding you bits of plot and flashes of characters until all you can think of is the story they brought you. Or at least, that’s how it works for me. It’s a delight, really.

So, catching the bunnies!

Typically, when I post a daily plot bunny on Twitter, I can already see several potential stories trying to unspool from it. And that’s just me, and just in that short moment. I can’t even begin to imagine all the things other people could come up with. It’s raw potential, nothing defined. A seed.

Like, for example: “A four-year-old happily telling everyone on a playground their full name and address” could become a meet-cutie love story about single parents meeting on a playground thanks to their respective children, but it could just as well turn into a kidnapping drama, or a fantasy story where real names are magic.

“Sleep well, love. I’ll be right outside your window, guarding your dreams” can be something sweet and tender, or a nightmare. It could find its way to a romance or a tale of supernatural, or – why not – a horror short story.

And a picture or a song can be interpreted and reinterpreted in dozens of ways, each one an inspiration. I can’t count all the times I’ve excitedly shared some lyrics or a photo with a friend, buzzing with ideas and newly-hatched plot bunnies, only to hear that it gave them completely different ones. (And then there is always much brainstorming and bouncing ideas around. Rolling around in them. So much fun.)

So, this is how inspiration works for me – it’s everywhere, it has a life of its own, and it multiplies when it’s shared with other creative people. What is it like for you?