I’m always intrigued with how artists get the ideas for their stories. It’s a glimpse into creative process — but also a reminder that sometimes awesome ideas come out of nowhere!
My short story, Sisters of the Lake, was recently included in the collection, Campfire Stories. This story was one that took me a number of years (maybe over a decade) to come to. I honestly can’t remember when I wrote the first draft, but I quite clearly recall the inspiration of it.
When I was growing up my family would go camping at this one particular lake. It was (and still very much is) a magical place for me, somewhere very special. It’s where I often find inspiration – and this particular story came to me as I sat out on a peninsula looking out over the lake, remembering the times I spent looking over the edge of our canoe at the lake that seemed to extend down forever (it is one of the clearest lakes in the world).
So I wrote a story, about a girl who went to a place very similar to the lake, and the world that could exist under it. But something about the story didn’t quite work – I couldn’t nail down the ending, couldn’t find the right way to tell the tale.
And then this group of people I’d gotten to know through some Camp NaNo’s decided we wanted to try our hand at a story collection. Since we were the Cabin in the Words, why not focus on the theme of Campfire Stories? And that helped me realize just how to tell the story.
One of the fun things about this collection is that they’re all such different stories, and so are the things that have inspired us.
Jill Marcotte contributed The Collector to this series. “As with much of my writing, stupid conversations with my husband made up the bulk of the inspiration. He’s the kind of person that I like to spew my unfiltered thoughts at (which makes you wonder why he married me), and we were driving down a dark road in California and swapping ideas for scary stories on our way to a campsite. We got there very late and everyone else was already asleep and so we went to bed without telling any of our creepy stories, but he made me walk in the dark by myself to go pay for the campsite. I think I heard a thousand nightmares in the trees during that ten minutes, and a few of them were made into stories.”
Kalen Williamson contributed a few stories: “With The Beast, I wanted to do something fun and a little scary. Dare I even say campy? I felt inspired by all the tales of wolves lurking in the woods like the Big Bad Wolf, werewolves, and Lycans. It’s a great tale to tell around a campfire.
Ghost Boy focused more on the emotional element of fear, and how unfair life can be. My favorite part about ghost stories is learning the history of the ghost. It was exciting to create Leonard’s ghost history. I liked thinking about why he would still be haunting Earth. I may even do a part 2!”
Melanie Endsley Francisco/Ansley Ashe wrote One Tall Tale to End Them All, and said: “I had started work on a completely different piece for Campfire Stories. I was writing a camping/ghost story about an abandoned stone house in the woods, when I left everything at home and went on vacation with my family. On our way home from South Dakota and Mount Rushmore, we went through The Badlands National Park. I loved the rugged landscape and it was over 100 F outside that day, so conditions were especially harsh. I knew then I had the makings of a story. I went home and wrote a story about a kick ass girl who didn’t let things down.”
Lucy Jayne said Fairy Dust was inspired by the social media hashtag that we use #cabininthewords. In my mind it grew into a series of vivid images, the story then emerged through the events that needed to happen in order to pass through those images. One of the most important things was the teeth, this fairy needed to be the opposite to a fairy inspired story that I’d written a few months earlier.
Where do you draw your artistic inspiration from? What’s one of your favorite inspiration moments?
Interested in reading the stories that grew out of these seeds of ideas? Be sure to check out Campfire Stories!