Shannon here, just to introduce this upcoming author. Ryan Attard is the author of Firstborn, the first book of the Legacy series, coming out December 13th. You can follow him at his website or check out his novel on Goodreads. It’s also on Amazon. I’m also giving away pre-releases of his highly anticipated novel in exchange for a review, so feel free to email me at email@example.com. Now, onto his hilarity:
This one is a question I get a lot.
Where do you get your inspiration? What inspires you? What makes you want to write?
I’ve exchanged banter and jokes about the so called muse – usually with regards to a ‘writer’s block’ (which by the way does not exist).
But before I go into a tirade about what floats my metaphorical boat, here’s some history. Muses were Greek goddesses of inspiration. They’re usually in a cluster (as most ideas are) and hovering around some poor bloke trying to sew together the pieces of his mind. I may have added the last part. Two reasons I like using the word ‘muse’.
1. Only a naked dancing woman has enough power to torture me as much as my ideas do. (Too much info into your personal life there, Ryan.)
Also, no one can pronounce the name Terpsichore – which represents the muse of dance. See above for reference about dancing naked lady.
My sources on this are on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muse). Because I am both lazy and supportive of questionable resources. Also, I like fiction.
My muse is a bitch. She doesn’t transmit ideas, so much as carpet bombs them. I find myself lying awake at 4am writing entire pages of notes and spider webs, giggling like a villain from the Ghostbusters (the cartoon. Cos I roll old-school). I used to sleep with a note pad near the pillow so that when ideas struck, I would just reach over and scribble notes down, without having to roll over, or even open my eyes. Perhaps not the cleanest of ideas but I decided I like my sleep whenever I can get it. An idea is just like a baby: sucks all your time, gives you mood swings and you’re not sleeping. Ever.
I decided to start writing once I caught up to my favourite series, and did not want to wait for those lazy authors to write the next book. I thought ‘Sure I could write a really long essay and divide it in chapters.’
Then I spent the next 2 years figuring out exactly how to write a book and how long it takes to get a GOOD piece of work done. My apologies to the authors – now I feel your pain.
Oddly enough Literature is not my main source of inspiration. I still read, of course, but I found myself unable to properly enjoy books. The inner editor catches errors and proofreading passes like its his job (Well, it is) and I find that I study novels rather than read them. So it largely depends on the author and genre with me. I’m extremely picky.
Anime, manga and movies are my main source. I think in flashes of movement or panels most of the time – then I go about describing those flashes in detail for your literacy pleasures. And I always need music. I listen to a variety of weird crap by artists which are mostly underground, far away from corporate clutches. I was actually thinking of putting up a soundtrack or playlist in my wordpress site, so if anyone knows how to do that, please help me out.
In fact, the title Firstborn comes from a Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn.’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qn5PXWBxEA). This is the first ever track I’ve heard from the artist and the dark melodic and upbeat theme just gave me the perfect imagery in my head. Suddenly I was Erik, killing demons and monsters- saving the world, one sarcastic remark at a time. Over the years I may have ripped off a name from the artist. The main character from the Pandora Chronicles, Professor Nick Solomon, is a huge fan of the EDM group Krewella (as am I).
TV shows have also played a huge role in what I write. I grew up on sitcoms, so my sense on humor is pretty tailored for a specific situation. I love it when I come across shows like ‘Lost Girl’ or ‘Supernatural’ which have a dark humor vibe and despite the blood are still family-friendly. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a classic that shaped my formative years, and I couldn’t help but model the Legacy heroine after the blonde ass kicking vamp slayer. Although mine’s a redheaded succubus hybrid.
Always a twist.
Ironically I’m also a huge fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (Very manly I know. Stop judging.) I first caught an episode when I was 7 years old and the image of a cheap animatronic black cat telling jokes mesmerized me forever. Years later I too invented a black talking cat named Amaymon. But instead of being a cursed warlock (who has no use in the show other than comedic relief) mine is a demon who has a penchant for frat boy level of partying and complete annihilation. Sometimes in the same night. Also he’s a pervert (of course). I did a character interview a few years ago. Check it out if you can handle it: http://cloeyk.blogspot.com/2013/02/ryan-attard.html
what else. . . Oh right, the martial arts. I use heavy Asian influences and mythologies, because of my love of that culture. My martial arts practice helped me understand concepts such as Yin and Yang and Chi – which in turn I have mutated into the magical system found in the Legacy books.
My muse is also a pot head. I know this because a) she always appears with a puff of smoke and b) she is always funny.
I have list upon list of one liners which I had written down when I first plotted the Legacy books. Over the years I’ve learnt to be a little smarter and divide them up into arcs or books – that way my choice is no more than 5 per arc. I suppose I am guilty of falling in love with lines that are funny but not applicable to the story. I once made the mistake of creating a scene just to put the joke in – which resulted in a giant clusterfuck and sent my entire book down the toilet. So here’s a lesson boys and girls – story first. Character traits, jokes, and other little stuff has to come second. Give the choice always do what’s best for your story, not just the scene. Big picture, people.
I suppose that’s my influence spectrum in a very tight nutshell. I tend to think of various ways to torture characters, like making them babysit a bunch of kids and fight a deranged teen on Halloween. (Now do you get why my muse is high?) This is the plot of Dread Night my Halloween special. Release schedule TBA on my blog.
Here’s the secret to making those muse visits regular – keep going at it. I am always writing, always thinking of new stories. Shannon A Thompson has a great post about highs and lows (https://shannonathompson.com/2013/10/12/one-of-my-lows-as-an-author/) and I couldn’t agree more. Lows after finishing a story are common (she does a better job at explaining it, using nice words and great literature as opposed to me, who tramples of the metaphorical flower bed, stumbling and cursing every ten seconds).
The most important part is not to let the lows get to you. That’s why I don’t believe in writer’s block. My muse is my bitch – she works for me. Sure, most days its an effort to get into it and gradually the flow gets better as you progress, but a true artist never stops just because they don’t feel like it, or just because they don’t know what to write. Here’s what I do when I don’t have the inkling to work: I look at my bank account. That always makes me crack my knuckles and work harder. Poverty is a great motivator.
I’ll leave y’all (Why do I say that? I’m not even American) with a quote from the author who inspired me to write: Jim Butcher.
“I don’t get Writer’s Block – I have a mortgage.”
Stay tuned and till next time,
Ryan (and his muse – who just left)