Monday, 9 July 2012

Elliptical Trainer + Boring Television + Overweight old guy = Birth of a Novel

Last week I didnt have a guest blogger and things were so hectic for me that I didnt post at all for the week. However, I am very proud to say that Bruce Blake has returned to our corner of the globe with yet another wonderful guest post.
This week we are delving into what got our present works off the ground, how the idea came about and how we pieced it together. I am discussing An Unexpected Desire and Fatal Indiscretions over on Ellie Mack's Blog and over here Bruce Blake is keeping us entertained with his take on the subject.

What kicked off your current book?

That's the assignment this week on the blog tour, but it leads me to ask another question: which current book? The one I'm editing? One of the four I'm writing? One of the two or three I'm planning? Hmm. Since the one I'm editing is almost complete and the second of a series, the answer to the question isn't very interesting: it arose from the first book. One of the ones I'm writing is the fourth book in a series I've been working on for a few years so, to be honest, so much time has passed since I had the idea, I couldn't come up with an answer to this question if you held a torch to the soles of my bare feet and put a clamp on my...finger. To make my own life a little easier, I'm going to choose one of my novels that is in the early planning stages, because the inspiration came very recently.

This book will be one in my Icarus Fell series, though I'm not sure if it will be the next (third) book or perhaps the fourth. I was on the elliptical trainer at the gym and, like at most gyms, the four televisions were on. My memory is a little hazy as to exactly what was on, but it was mid-afternoon, so I'm going to say it was Days of Our Lives on one, a reality show about people who make cakes and/or fix up houses on another, and some exciting spectator sport like competitive staring, on the others. Suffice it to say, none of the choices held my interest. And since there was an overweight old guy on the treadmill in front of me, and not an attractive young lady, I got lost in my thoughts.

What I started thinking about was a few short stories I've started in past years, a line of thought that is unusual for me as I've really set the short form off to the side since I got serious about novels. Actually, you could hardly call them the beginnings of stories; they are more sketches or brief scenes with no real form and no place to go. Specifically, three of them came to mind:

1.      A guy who considers himself a bad luck charm because everyone he cares about dies. His father before he's born, his mother in childbirth, his pets, his friends. Everyone.

2.      A severely depressed teen who decides to end it all and finds that he can't die.

3.      A guy who, after months of having to hack off the tail he's been growing so people don't see it, becomes concerned because he is starting to grow scales.

The inspiration? Combine these three bits of characters/stories into one really unfortunate fella. I know, looking at it on paper in one place, it seems kind of a natural progression, but when each part was written at different times, in different places, on the backs of separate napkins, it's not so obvious. It takes an elliptical trainer and a little boredom to really bring things together.

So now the real work begins: fleshing the character and his background out, then figuring out how he fits into Icarus' world and what problems he creates. I've got a few ideas, a few 'what-ifs' to ask, but there is a ways to go yet.

Time to go back to the gym and hope there are soap operas on TV.

If you're a writer, where do you find inspiration? And readers, do you ever wonder where you favourite stories came from?


Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don't take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.

Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn't really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the "u" out of words like "colour" and "neighbour" then he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.

Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn't until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, "Another Man's Shoes" was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, "Yardwork", was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, "On Unfaithful Wings", was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, is scheduled for release in July, 2012, with the first book in the four-part “Khirro's Journey” epic fantasy coming soon after. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and a possible YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.

On Unfaithful Wings

I was alive, then I was dead, now I’m stuck somewhere in between.

My name is Icarus Fell. I am a harvester.

The archangel Michael brought me back to collect souls and help them on their way to Heaven--that’s what a harvester does. If I get enough of them before the bad guys do--if I do a good job--I can have my life back. Now people I knew in life are dying, killed by a murderer’s knife, their bodies defiled, and the cops think I’m the killer.

I’m not, but I think I know who is.

But how does a dead man, a man who no longer exists, stop a psycho? I’m not sure, but I’m going to stop him before everyone I know is dead.

I have to stop him before he gets to my son.

Icarus Fell wasn't very good at being alive, and it turns out he's not much better at being dead. When two muggers kill him on a rainy night, he thinks it is the final relief he's been seeking from a life gone seriously awry, but rather than just letting him be dead, the Archangel Michael has other plans.

As a harvester, it becomes Icarus' job to help souls on their journey to Heaven. But when he's sent to harvest the soul of Father Dominic, the abusive priest who raised him, Icarus makes one more bad decision in a long string of bad decisions. Soon, people he knew when he was alive start dying under the blade of a sadistic serial killer, and the police have only one suspect: Icarus. Now he has to avoid capture by the police and figure out who the murderer is before the psycho carves a path through everyone he ever cared about, a path that ends with his teenage son.

“On Unfaithful Wings” is the first novel in the Icarus Fell novel series.

Twitter: @bruceablake

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