Mushrooms, wrestling, and a few glimpses into my work in progress.
I don’t write about my life as such, but that doesn’t stop little bits of it sneaking into my novels.
When I was ten and started writing my first novel it was autumn and field mushrooms were popping up everywhere in the garden. I don’t like eating mushrooms, but I love the idea of finding food in the corner of the lawn.
For a whole book my characters ate nothing but mushrooms.
They probably didn’t have much choice because they were seven years old and lived in the middle of nowhere with no parents or other means of support.
Not that they minded. In fact, I think they were pretty happy about their situation.
And did I mention there were golden horses?
Fast forward to the first novel I actually finished, cough-cough years later.
I was obsessively training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) when I started writing it, and I made “wrestling”–closely fashioned on BJJ–one of the national arts of the empire where the story was set.
My manuscript was filled with way-too-technical descriptions of wrestling matches.
Fortunately or not, that wasn’t the only problem with it. It was also 200k words long and the story, such as it was, didn’t appear until after the 60k word mark.
Only one person ever read it. She said the first part, before the story appeared, was her favourite section.
To make matters worse, the book started with the birth of the MC and a prophecy about her life (because how else are you supposed to know the story’s going to interesting?).
Some years later I contemplated rewriting that book–maybe turning it into an actual story–and, having not trained in BJJ since study took over my life, I realised I’d lost the knowledge to do it right.
It was probably for the best.
Then there’s my current work in progress. When I started writing it flying trapeze was very much on my mind.
Flying. Not me.
My writing had increased in subtlety so (fortunately) I didn’t literally include characters doing flying trapeze.
(It’s a fantasy set in a pseudo-medieval world, so it would have been a stretch to fit it in, though I’m sure I could have managed.)
What I did try to capture and use as inspiration was the physicality of flying. Flying makes you strong. It makes you wield your body rather than lugging it around.
My main character in this book is an arena fighter–inspired by gladiators except not Roman–and my experience with flying helped motivate the way she feels about her body and fighting.
She’s also fifteen years old, and while she may be clueless about life outside the arena, her fighting is god-touched. Perhaps even literally.
I would never say my writing is realistic, but I do try to have some grounding in reality for most aspects, even my dragons. (Though I don’t always succeed.)
Hence the second inspiration for my MC: Olympic gymnasts.
People in fantasy do incredible things. But so do people in real life.
How does real life influence your writing?
Get my updates right in your inbox.