Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's Your Inspiration? Guest Blogger Debbie Mumford

Today Cheeky Reads welcomes author Debbie Mumford as our guest blogger! I met Debbie on the Romance Divas Forum and was delighted that she agreed to guest for us. Welcome Debbie and take it away...

by Debbie Mumford

As a published novelist, a question that pops up frequently in conversations is, "Where do you get your ideas?"

The world around me is a constant source of inspiration, though I rarely stay in the here-and-now for more than a few pages of a story. I’ve published a few short contemporary romance pieces, but they were flash fiction (1,000 words or less). If they’d been any longer, I’m positive something "unusual" would’ve crept in. So far, my longer fiction has always been fantasy or paranormal in nature.

I have a duet of short stories titled Glass Magic available through Freya’s Bower. Those two stories began on a cold winter day when the glass in the front door at my office fogged up. You could actually read a sign that had been removed as much as a decade earlier. The phrase “ghost in the glass” popped into my mind and simmered until I was asked to write those stories for Freya’s Bower.

Another question I've been asked regards whether my stories begin as a vague idea or arrive fully formed, needing only to be transcribed and polished. In all honesty, my fiction usually starts from a seed—a phrase or a picture that intrigues me. The seed germinates in my subconscious until it’s ready to work its way out through my fingers and onto the screen. I rarely know what I’m going to write until I’m actually in the process of typing. That’s part of the fascination for me—discovering what happens next!

Several of my published short stories began as writing exercises: Take three unrelated words and write for fifteen minutes with the goal of using all three words. Opening Her Eyes began as dragon-rickshaw-bifocals, though you’d never know it to read the final version!

Silver Casket-compressed
One of my current works-in-process was born during a drive with my husband to admire the fall foliage. A tree sprite popped into my head and asked what would happen if she married a human and they had a daughter? Because of that question I imagined Nimue—a feisty teenage girl who is stuck between worlds. She's definitely not human, but she's not quite Fae either. As if those teenage years aren't hard enough…

Finally, there’s my newest release, The Silver Casket, a story inspired by my own Scots heritage. What would happen if a lonely, contemporary American woman were transported back in time to 15th century Scotland? I’ll never tell—you’ll have to read the novella to find out, but it was a blast to write!

So...Where do you find your inspiration? If you're not a writer, what inspires you about life? As a reader, what kind of storylines call out to you?


  1. Hi Debbie!

    Thanks for Guest Blogging for us today!

    I love all kinds of storylines and find that ones with tough heronines call out to me - even in historicals.

    My readers might not know, but I am trying my hand at writing my very first romance, and I'm fidning inspriation on my weekend hikes. I go every weekend, and something about the setting just lets my mind take flight.

    I've even used the place I hike as the opening scene setting in my work in progess! I was hiking one day and asked myself "what if this happened right here - how would I react?"

    Great blog and thanks again for being with us!

  2. Thanks for inviting me, CheekyGirl. I know what you mean about hiking. I've used several of my favorite spots in my novels. A favorite glacier even inspired the ice aerie in "Sorcha's Heart"

  3. Hi Debbie! Your ideas seem to pop up like mine. Something will stick out--and I'll suddenly find myself playing a "what if" game to flesh out the idea to figure out where to start the story. Usually I get an idea of either a funny inciting incident (I'm usually more funny than dramatic) or the Black moment--and then I want to figure out either how does the character get out of this--and what's the worst that can come of this?--or if it's a black moment, I ask, 'How did we end up here?' and I end up bouncing back with scene snippets in my head to a possible beginning. So then I start at where I think the beginning probably is and try to write to the black moment.

    Your writing sounds like it comes about organically. I think that is the best way to have fully-fleshed characters and the best laughs and best cries.

  4. Hi Debbie!
    You created a short story out of dragon, rickshaw, and bifocals? That's awesome! I love challenges like those, that get you writing without all the plot hang-ups.

    I think I get inspiration similarly - little things I see or hear will spark something in my imagination. Usually it takes a while for that little question or phrase to grow into a plot.

    I was driving to work once, going across a draw-bridge, and the stop lights went on the fritz and all turned green at once. Created a huge snarl in traffic. But then I started thinking what if someone had done it on purpose? What was there to gain? And that's become the starting point for my next book.

  5. Hi Debbie! My fiction has also been either fantasy or paranormal. I've actively tried to keep a paranormal element out, but it creeps back in on the most ordinary beginnings. It's the spark that excites my imagination. The ordinary comes first, and is something mundane as returning home and seeing a bunch of cars in the driveway. Then the "what if" kicks in. By the time I'm writing the story, my current WIP, it's about a guy getting a ride home in a taxi with the grim reaper and figuring out he's a ghost!

  6. I love writing prompts. I can fly with those. But most of my stories just show up. Usually when I'm trying to sleep. However, since I've jumped into this writing thing more in the last couple of months, ideas come at me everywhere. I was getting my hair cut and listening to the convo around me in the hair salon. Idea! I read a blog about modern day aristocrats still living in castles in Germany. Idea!

    They really are everywhere.

  7. Ideas just pop up in my head, it might be a song I'm listening to, a phrase I read somewhere, or the end of a dream as I wake up in the morning. I chase down those snippets and try and make them into something far more substantial -ie a book. Sometiemes it works, sometimes it doesn't :)

  8. Hey, Debbie! I love that you write because you want to know what is going to happen. I'm a member of the Romance Writer's Revenge and I'm constantly telling the crew that's how it goes for me. I write because I want to know what is going to happen next!

    Most of my ideas show up in the mornings, when I'm slowly waking up with some odd dream still lingering in my mind. I'm a lucid dreamer and can usually hold onto them long enough to start meddling with them, do the 'what if?' stuff. And if I'm lucky, a book pops up out of that beginning.

    I love your covers, BTW.

    Maureen aka 2nd Chance

  9. Thanks for all your fabulous comments! Sounds like we have a lot of dreamers here.

    MsHellion - I love to read light, funny stories! They balance out the dark urban fantasy...which I also love!

    Haleigh - Yes! Quick 15 minute exercises get the words flowing without concern about plotting. A great way to jump-start your muse *lol*

    Melissa - Good to find someone else who can't keep the weird out of her words!

    Terri - That's a great plus to the writing can never be accused of eavesdropping or snooping. You're researching! A valid part of your process *g*

    *waves to Kate* Yep. Sometimes those ideas work, and sometimes they don't. But you never know until you try!

    Maureen - every writer approaches the process a little differently. I *love* racing through my first draft to discover my story! My process is messy and requires a lot of clean-up, but it suits me SO much better than the piles of 3x5 cards and precise plotting techniques my friends use. Expand your toolbox and wse the tools that fit your hand!

  10. Like Haleigh, one story I wrote called "Trash" started while driving in traffic. It was a short, horror story, not like my usual fare at all. It's been published in a few ezines.

    Just about anything cane inspire me, and sometime I've just sat down and with no idea and written whatever came out. LOL Sometimes, it works, and sometimes, it doesn't.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to write any more. (Or fortunately, depending on how you look at it. ;))


  11. Yeah! Thanks for dropping by, Marci!



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