#MondayBlogs – Finding Inspiration Within The Dirt and Grime

The fourth Michael Sykora Novel is coming your way soon! The title is Child’s Play. I’ll have it up for a discounted pre-order in about a week, with a scheduled June release.

When I release a new book, readers inevitably ask me what inspired the story. That can be a difficult question to answer, mainly because I’m not always completely sure myself. I rarely begin a book with intention. I simply listen, and I go where the characters lead.

This fourth Michael Sykora book began with a vague intention. I’d written a few chapters, but the story stalled. I was stymied, feeling uninspired by both the story and the characters. A strange occurrence, given that I love spending time with Michael and the gang. But I couldn’t find the zing I was looking for in the plot buildup. Even the characters got quiet. They apparently weren’t feeling it either.

Then my husband and I went to a small venue in Tampa to see a local band. We’d never been to the venue and, while the band was great, the venue was… inspiring. The following day, with that venue on my mind, I wrote this:

If cleanliness was next to godliness, then this place was the devil’s lair. Grime crawled across the walls, stealing nourishment from the paint and the plaster. Her red Doc Martens stuck to the threadbare carpet, as if it was trying to suck her down into the floorboards below. This room was a giant flytrap, except the spider was a human predator and she the fly to be toyed with, and then eaten.

An invisible vapor cloud of stink had replaced the air here. Something foul, like human waste and rotted meat, mixed with mildew and a hint of drunken bum. She tried breathing through her mouth, but the vile flavor settled on the back of her tongue, and so she continued breathing through her nose, thinking the smell was a minor improvement over the taste.

And I kept writing. Those two paragraphs are the start of what became the opening scene. The story shifted focus to something else entirely. The chapters I’d previously written were pushed further back into the story, slightly revised to accommodate the new direction. I was, suddenly, inspired.

Child’s Play has nothing to do with music or bands or dirty venues. And, yet, the story was borne of those things. Inspiration is like that, coming at us in snippets or one big whoosh from seemingly nowhere.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. This is how inspiration works. The evening I was out with my husband, I was looking at a dirty and worn converted warehouse, with a stage and a band and groups of people mingling. My mind, though, saw the scene in pieces, and processed those pieces in a most unexpected way.

I’ll be showing off the cover design and sharing details of the book soon. If you want to keep up with my writing news and get sneak previews, you can subscribe to my newsletter here: https://tinyletter.com/Darcia

In the meantime, stay inspired.