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Monday, April 14, 2014

Inspiration from Unexpected Sources

by Shobhan Bantwal

Authors are constantly seeking out story ideas, consciously or unconsciously. Whether we are shopping for groceries, sitting in church on a Sunday morning, showering, or pulling weeds in our yards, our writer minds are always on the prowl for juicy story ideas.

Some of us are disciplined enough to carry a notepad to jot down those ideas that suddenly strike in the most bizarre places like an airport rest room or a crowded restaurant. I am not very diligent about such things, so I have to try harder to recall those thoughts at a later time. And if I can't, I chastise and torture myself for my lack of foresight.

However, we all know that inspiration can come from the most unexpected avenues. A newspaper article, a neighbor's death, a dog's uncanny ability to sense danger, an obscure superstition, or even something as minor as a child's forgotten homework can trigger an epiphany. A writer's mind works in strange ways.

As a sociology major in college, I had always been interested in women's issues in contemporary India. While I had considered them appropriate subjects for serious non-fiction books, I had never thought of them as possible fiction themes.

Years later, when I read an article about dowry deaths, a horrible and contemptible practice that continues to plague modern India, I was inspired to write my debut book, The Dowry Bride

Later, when I heard about sonogram technology making it easy for some unscrupulous doctors in India to abort unwanted female fetuses, I decided to use that topic as the basis for my second book, The Forbidden Daughter. Both books were a great way to introduce controversial hot-button social issues via an entertaining and romantic story.
Model in a Sari

The inspiration for The Sari Shop Widow came while shopping at the Little India community in New Jersey, where colorful sari shops abound. The trials and tribulations of my own petite stature led me to write The Reluctant Matchmaker, the story of a tiny woman falling in love with an unusually tall man, and the crazy challenges she faces.

I would love to hear about your book ideas, and who and what inspired you to write them?

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Judith Ashley said...

I also find romance novels a way to shine a light on and educate readers about certain subjects, Shobhan. I'm someone who has dreams or visions about stories or that is how The Sacred Women's Circle stories have shown up. Short stories are also "aha" moments when the basis of a story with characters, character arcs, major plot points, etc. "appear" in my mind. Right now those short story ideas aren't visible but I know they are there and will come forth when Book Three in the series is released later this month.

Sarah Raplee said...

My inspiration for my Steampunk novel (in progress) came when a voice popped into my head one day while I was doing laundry. "The Fixer-Upper Boyfriend," the voice said. That inspired me to plan a YA novel.

The inspiration for my short story,Curse of the Neahkahnnie Treasure, came from the legend of the Neahkahnnie Treasure told up and down the Oregon Coast.

You nailed it when you said that writers' minds work in strange ways!

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Judith & Sarah,

Thanks for sharing what inspired and encouraged you to write your stories. Amazing what can trigger an idea, isn't it?

My six-year-old granddaughter has a vivid imagination and comes up with ideas for tales all on her own. I hope she will start to write them some day...

I wish you ladies lots of luck and sales with your individual works of art.

And of course, here's to lots of inspiration from every possible source!!!