Posts Tagged With: writers’s ideas

Novelists’ characters take over

It may seem like a strange thing, but many fiction writers become so involved with their characters that the dramatic personae take on a life of their own. In a recent (admittedly small-scale) Facebook survey of writers, a large percentage of novelists admitted that they talk to their characters, dream about them, have arguments (silently) with them and so on. Sara Paretsky, the mystery novelist, once told me that she got the idea for her character V. I. Warshawski, when she started hearing a voice in her head (and I can testify that she’s not crazy).

Now, as I start a new novel, one of my own characters is not only talking to me, he wants to take over this blog for a day. So take it away, Travis:

You know I’ve always wanted to be a blogger, so here’s my big chance! I’m really a photographer and do everything from the occasional portrait to large-scale artwork, mostly ofnature and majestic rock formations in the American West. I do my best work on the art shots and recently was picked up as a freelancer for one of the most amazing photo magazines in the U.S. They are sending me to the Great Wall of China for my first assignment and I can hardly wait. I feel a special connection with China.

You see, I had a dream about being there. It was more than a dream, actually. I felt I was really there. I was in a courtyard, surrounded by scores of martial artists. We all had horses with us. When the clarion sounded and the Emperor came out to the plaza, we jumped up as one and did a synchronized display of martial arts movement, riding dressage on the horses, all while carrying the Emperor’s signature flag. It was spellbinding.

I can’t stumblr_nrunr1vW2K1u7wocpo1_500eem to get rid of that dream. Now I’ll get a chance to find out if I really do fit into the culture over there.

I certainly won’t fit in visually. I’m a tall guy, about six-foot-one, with reddish brown hair down to my shoulders, and a scruffy beard. I could maybe created a small ponytail at the back, but my hair’s just not long enough. You remember Aragorn in Lord of the Rings? My hair is pretty much like that (only not dirty all the time!). I am pretty exuberant and sometimes embarrass my friends in crowds, so the polite Chinese might find me a little much.

However, that’s just the visible me. The inner me is much more complex. Although I have what looks like a good career for a guy who’s in his early thirties, I actually worry every day where the money is coming from. Since the advent of digital cameras, and then the proliferation of cell phones that can take good pictures,

everyone thinks he or she is a photographer these days. I live in Boulder, Colorado, and often sell my photos to the local paper or even the Denver Post. But more and more these publications are buying the work by amateurs. Cell phones may just spell the end of my career if it gets any easier to take a beautiful shot without knowing about f-stops, lighting, and all the things I learned in photography school.

Worse, I wish I had someone to share my life with. I haven’t had a girlfriend since the day my sister Sara died of lung cancer. That was a few years ago. I just haven’t had the will to get out and introduce myself to women. I have become something of an anti-smoking crusader, however. I owe that much to my favorite sister.

So, I hide behind my camera viewfinder and look at the world through a camera lens. Not really participating in the world, but really wishing I could.

And be nice to Lynn. She’s telling my story and it will be in a book one day. Maybe I really will be famous.


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Writing Fantasy—Where Those Ideas Come From

This blog is mainly for relating news of the fantastic and seemingly magical things that go on in our world and the universe. However, I’ve been asked to write about my own work with fantasy fiction, as well. So from time to time, I’ll write about how I go about writing fantasy, which I base in the current world. (I don’t do sword and sorcery writing.)

The thing most people ask me is where I get my ideas. I’m not sure why they ask this, because everyone comes up with ideas in unique ways. Some just have flashes of brilliance, others do research for years. I’m in between the researcher and flash-of-insight kind of writer. For my first book with the Story Plant, The God’s Wife, I had done years of reading on ancient Egyptian culture and religion. In the midst of all this reading (which was done for


my own enjoyment), I discovered that there was a type of ancient priestess in the early dynasties, the 18th Dynasty, and in New Kingdom,  called the God’s Wife of Amun. She was supposed to be the earthly wife of Amun or Amun-Re, who was the chief god of the leading triad of gods during the New Kingdom and then later in the waning years of the Egyptian civilization. (Egyptian religion is so complicated that books have been written trying to describe it, but just accept that Amun was the top dog.)

I also traveled to Egypt, when it was safe, with John Anthony West, who lead an extraordinary tour of the pyramids, Sphinx, and great temples. I did research over there too. Plus I learned what the land was like, how the Nile smelled (surprisingly sweet), and how ancient Egyptians depicted themselves in artwork.

Because the God’s Wife was married to the head god, she trumped all the male priests in the temple. Some Egyptologists contend that she was second in power to the Pharaoh, because religion and government were the same in that era. She often came from the Pharaoh’s family.

Also. earlier I had seen a Polish movie, “The Double Life of Veronique” by director Krzystof Kieslowski, translated into English. I was fascinated by this tale of two women who shared the same soul. I decided to make my fictional God’s Wife share a single soul with a contemporary-era Chicago dancer who is to dance the lead in a production of “Aida,” based in ancient Egypt. I leave it up to the reader to figure out how this can be (although I hint strongly a the parallel universe theory). Eventually, they have to merge.

In retrospect, I wish I had put the single soul concept in my promotional material, because many people didn’t understand the dual plot. I did change my Amazon description to make this clearer.

For “Dateline: Atlantis” I read so much about the fabled disappeared continent (or large series of islands) that I don’t know where to start. The idea just grew in my head about a reporter who discovers an underwater world and the romance, murder, detective work, and near deadly underwater encounter all grew out of that. Some plots just do themselves.

I must give special credit to Graham Hancock’s many books about the possibilities of pre-Ice Age civilization as my guiding lights. Hancock, a real reporter, stood out from some of the loonies who wrote strange. unbelievable books on Atlantis. For my next writing project, Hancock is an  influence again, and the story involves, somewhat, a killer comet heading towards earth.

My books are published by the Story Plant, a great, innovative, independent publishing company,

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