March 6, 2013

Bam! Ill-timed Inspiration

Brain go boom. Pretty, pretty colors.
(c) Shutterstock
These things always come at the wrong moment...

I was on deviantArt clearing through my messages (I'm behind by the thousands) and updating my to-do lists for the site, when a really expansive project sprouted, threatening to push all thoughts of my thesis out of my head. 

I'm shaking my fist at the heavens right now! 

Anyway, I try to be a benevolent spirit on dA from time to time, and one of the ways I go about doing this is by purchasing adoptables from people who are trying to raise points (a type of dA currency) for whatever reason. Adoptables are created characters to which you purchase the rights. Which means, the design, color scheme, and overall rendition of the character is yours to do with as you see fit. I'd read a couple journals from people who were very bummed that their adoptables weren't being purchased, so sometimes I rummage their galleries to see what they have and purchase ones that I like. 

After I accumulated about three characters several months ago, I figured it would be a neat challenge to eventually see if I could come up with something where I could use them. As I continued to purchase adoptables here and there, I was spurred by the challenge of finding a way to use every character I'd won or bought. 

So of course, as I'm clearing up my messages and galleries, the idea on how to use them pops up in my mind. And then my brain just kind of overdid it and suddenly a substantial plot (rather concept--plot is too tidy of a word to use at this moment) and backstories for the characters fleshed themselves out. 

I own the rights to these characters now!
(Designed by Abissh)
And it is a breath of fresh air! It's so hard not to drop everything and work on this, but at the same time, I feel like I have to type some of it out, or else I'll forget some of the exciting details when I finally have the time to come back and develop this project.

True to form, I'm messing with fairy tales again (yup, that's kind of my thing). And I'm playing around with crossing stories and gender swapping and all sorts of fun things to turn these stories on their heads.

I think a lot of my brainstorming influences have to do with stuff I've discussed in school, and things I've recently read.  I think that mish-mash of experience formed this great globule of a concept. 

So, without further ado, here's the list of things that probably influenced me as I put stories together for my characters. 
  • In my classes, we've been asked to identify the moment where we read something that cemented the fact that we wanted to write fiction. I've shared at residency and in online classes--the book that did it for me was Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I read it back in 2001 as a freshman in college. It took the fairy tale of the Six Swans and combined it with Celtic mythology and history. And there were so many things in it that touched me deeply on an emotional level. I never cared to read romance, but I loved the romance in the story. And Sorcha was such a strong character. I always think of this book when I think of writing fantasy.
  • I bought the first three volumes of Amya at Ohayocon and zipped through it. I really like it so far! Anyway, the lead character, Faye, is mute...and she reminded me of Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest, who is also mute.  The characters do have different personalities and purposes, but both are strong females who find ways to communicate without the use of voices. This has always intrigued me. 
  • I recently finished Sailor Twain: Or, the Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel. . I've had a love of the sea for quite some time, and I can't remember how long I've loved mermaids. Anyway, I've always liked the darker, older versions of fairy tales, and the mermaids of old were a bit more sinister. And they're seductive of course, too. 
  • Recently finished Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny . I have to admit, I wanted to like the book more. I just couldn't get into the characters at all...but I did like a lot of the Big Ideas behind the story. There's lots of references to mythology and literature, and some of my favorite scenes occurred in Remba, the seabound kingdom that is a reflection of Amber. Lots of Celtic influences there.
  • Doing research on the psychology of fan fiction for my panel at Colossalcon. And, looking into cosplay again. Fans like to swap genders, switch power dynamics, and turn canon stories on their head. (Think of the Ice King's fanfiction in Adventure Time).
  • We've been reading A Short History of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn in my Genre Readings class and it's got a section devoted to Australian fantasy authors. Juliet Marillier is mentioned, and so is Cecilia Dart-Thornton, who wrote several books I enjoy. The one that came to mind as I read about her was The Ill-Made Mute, which I highly recommend. This is another Celtic-myth influenced work, and it features a mute lead character. And mythical creatures that dwell in the water, like the kelpie.
I will never get tired of this material.
Image (cc) Source
With all of that simmering in the background, I started to combine the plots of several fairytales: The Three Ravens, The Little Mermaid, Donkeyskin (since I failed at my first attempt to use it in The Name and the Key), Sleeping Beauty, possibly Little Red Riding Hood...and that's what I've got so far. 

The character with the most complete backstory so far is the male lead. Of course it is! Every time I write a male character they seem to outshine my female leads. Men are very fun for me to write...I don't know why I'm not as good with female characters. That's weird and it kind of annoys me. 

ANYWAY! I get to let this simmer for a while as I try to get my brain together for my thesis. I am so mentally done with that book, but I just can't be in that negative state to write good fiction, you know? It'll be more to revise, I think. Blehh.

Current goal to finish my thesis--750 words of NEW writing each day. From now until April 3rd. If I follow my own rules, that's almost 22,000 words. Not bad. 

And my reward for finishing The Name and the Key? I'll start storyboarding my new project idea. 

...Which will be a graphic novel, by the way. 

;)