Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Getting Inspiration

I haven't had an opportunity to do any writing the last couple of weeks, and am gnashing at the bit to get back to it. But that doesn't mean I've been a slacker. I took the opportunity while Mom was visiting to catch up on my research for the novel. Over the last week and a half, I read The Proper Bostonians by Cleveland Amory and Our Southern Highlanders by Horace Kephart.

And I come away from the experience, sure as I ever could be, that my title 900 Miles is more than perfectly appropriate.

I'm pretty sure that in all of America, there are no two groups of people more different (and yet so fundamentally similar) as a Southern Appalachian and a "proper" Bostonian. I won't go into it now, because what would be the point of writing the book? But I will say that I'm absolutely giddy with the possibilities.

This novel originated as a conversation in my head about what was wrong with Home Improvement. I was driving along in the mini-van, on the way to the preschool, when I started thinking about why my story just didn't seem to have any steam. I think I was also mulling over something I'd read in Writer's Digest about how the characters in a romance novel need to be at odds with one another on a fundamental basis (which is hard to work with when your characters are married, in love, and only in disagreement about which house to buy--which was my ultimate problem with Home Improvement).

The conversation in my head went something like this:

So if I was going to write another book, who would my characters be? Who would immediately be at odds with each other?

Well, a mountain healer would certainly be at odds with a "real" doctor. And it wouldn't hurt if he was arrogant, and unreceptive to mountain remedies, and didn't understand the culture, and thought everyone was a stupid hillbilly. That would create a lot of conflict. I could do something with that...

But what would bring them together? I know! The flood!

And then things totally spiraled out of control...

And here I am.

I just ordered a book off of amazon.com that I hope is going to be useful, too. It's called The North Carolina Flood July 14, 15, 16 1916 by W. M. Bell. It's out of print and hard to find, so I was lucky there were copies available somewhere. Hopefully, it will inspire me even further.

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