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.


The Beginning (a.k.a. How I tripped and fell into this writing thing)

If someone had told me five years ago that one day soon, I was going to be a writer, I would have called them crazy (or, you know, smiled and nodded to placate them, and then briskly walked away; you shouldn’t argue with the crazy).

I mean, sure, I’ve been playing with words all my life – I bullied my Grandpa to teach me how to read at age 4, and it’s been a slippery slope ever since: reading, reviewing, editing, proofreading, translating. I’ve worked with words, in different capacities, for well over a decade. But they were all other people’s words.

And okay, I’ve always had the (highly troublesome) gift of seeing all the ways in which any given situation – real or hypothetical – could unfold. I kicked ass at research. I never had a single hobby that wasn’t creative or artistic or crafty. But stories? Characters and background and plots? All built from scratch and carefully woven together like threads in a tapestry? No way. That was something real writers did. And how did one even choose a story to write? It seemed like a monumental task, something impossibly difficult that only professionals could do – experts in the world of words; the initiated. They surely possessed some kind of secret knowledge.

Then, in 2010, I discovered fanficton.

I’ve read my way through two large fandoms, at first just looking for additional glimpses into the worlds I’d grown to love; missing scenes to complement and flesh out the canon. Soon, I started sinking in deeper and deeper, discovering longer stories, talented authors whose words took me on adventures in no way worse (and let’s be honest, often better) than “real” books, and all the alternate universes within official worlds.

(All the erotica, too. Which was a shocker, how much there was and how good some of it could be. But that’s a topic for another post.)

And then, one day in the summer of 2011, a story seed hit me right in the heart.

It was a prompt someone started to fill, but the story seemed abandoned after just a few chapters, and the author took it in a different direction than I hoped to see anyway. But the prompt, oh, the prompt… It struck all the right chords. I could see how the story would unfold, I could feel all the heartbreak and comfort, the hope and slow build, I could imagine the way it ended – and I wanted to read it. That story, the one in my head.

I struggled for a week, waiting for the longing to subside. It never did. I kept catching myself daydreaming, building scene after scene in my head, and it felt like flying. It was a breathtaking feeling. Finally, I couldn’t resist any longer. I took a notebook and started writing down the slivers of random scenes, bits of dialogue – out of order, incomplete, just to get them out of my head. It was never enough. The story kept growing until it was done, over 20 000 words I never knew I had in me just flowing out within a month. It was only the first of many.

It turned out a writer doesn’t always choose a story – sometimes a story chooses them; jumps them on a perfectly ordinary day, uninvited, and clubs them over the head. That’s how it happens for me at least, with most of my ideas.

And real writers? Are those who write, published or not.

I can’t imagine not writing anymore. From the very first sentence, 3.5 years and nearly a million words ago, I knew I found my place. It was peace like no other I’ve known. It was like coming home.

I was really lucky. I found myself in a wonderful, supportive fandom community who welcomed me and my words with open arms, allowed me to safely practice and learn by writing, and who read and commented and embraced my stories. I was lucky to never have to write to the drawer; to never have to fear judgment, beyond the usual nerves/excitement mix when posting every new chapter. I’ve learned so much, and I have so much to be grateful for: the safe environment to slowly spread my wings and my readers’ support every step of the way. It’s such a precious gift for a fledgling writer.

For years, I’ve been saying thank you with my fics. Now, I get to say thank you with original stories, too.