I’m hosting a guest post today by C.M. Story, author of YA Fantasy “Rise of Sidenah”. Welcome!
My Answer to the Question, “What Inspires You to Write?”
What inspires you?
It’s a question writers get asked a lot. Sometimes, I wonder why.
Do we care what inspires a taxi driver to spend all day tooling around town in a yellow car? Or a pilot to fly a plane from point to point day after day? Or a nurse to spend her days and nights with the sick?
I ask people what inspires them to do what they do all the time. I was just talking to my doctor the other day, and he said most people in his profession felt a calling to go into medicine. Today’s difficulties in the health industry make it harder for them (that’s an entirely different post), but regardless, he said that he became a doctor to help people.
I think that’s really admirable. Can I say the same about what inspired me to write Rise of the Sidenah, or to write at all?
The Inspiration for Rise of the Sidenah Came from a Stephen King Book
Not really. I wasn’t inspired to help people. The initial spark of the story came, believe it or not, from a coffee table book by Stephen King (who wrote the text) and f-stop Fitzgerald (who took the photos) called Nightmares in the Sky. Despite the scary title (part of King’s contribution, no doubt), I found the book fascinating.
Fitzgerald had taken a number of pictures of gargoyles throughout Europe and the United States. To me, the sculptures seemed magical instead of scary, the endless variety of artwork in stone beyond what I had imagined was ever accomplished in Gothic architecture or during any other period.
As I looked through that book, I got really curious. Each gargoyle was so different, unique, and amazing in its own way.
Who were the artists behind these magnificent stone carvings? I discovered they were called “stonecutters,” and back then, they were just as common as painters and musicians and writers. These were the artists who carved the statues, shaped the columns, and formed the cornices. They used chisels and mallets to fashion the stone as they wished, each putting his own unique stamp on his creations.
What must it have been like to be one of these individuals? My musings resulted in my heroine, Adrienna Vedica, who is drawn to sculpting, and has the ability to make the magical white stone come to life.
Fiction Arises From Our Desire to Understand Life
Like any artist, Adrienna’s not perfect, and her flaws show up with frightening clarity when her sculptures start walking around causing havoc. But my musings went further than this. As I watched Adrienna’s story unfold in front of me, I wondered—once she was aware of what she could do, would she continue?
Questions inspire most of my fiction writing. I think many other writers would say the same. In the end, we’re really curious creatures, wondering about how life works, why it works the way it does, and how different people navigate their way through it.
“I believe that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds…” said writer and clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison.
It’s in being curious and asking questions that we tap into what it really means to be human. Some will seek the answers to those questions in music, art, medicine, mechanics, science, philosophy, and maybe even while tooling around the city in a yellow cab car.
I seek them in stories. Watching a character figure out how to deal with her life challenges helps me find some peace in my questioning, at least for a little while.
In Rise of the Sidenah, the ultimate question was: Should someone continue to pursue their calling, even if there’s a risk it could hurt others?
It wasn’t an easy question. Adrienna struggles with it mightily. In the end, she discovers her true path. Would someone else arrive at the same conclusion she does? I’m not sure, but in seeing her story through to the end, I found some inspiration of my own.
Maybe, in some small way, I’ll help people. I’d settle for entertaining them for a few hours. If my stories make people think about some of the same questions I did, if only for a brief moment in time, that would be a bonus.
Said Reveille for Radicals author Saul D. Alinsky: “Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.”
Live to the end. Besides cats, which of course have nine lives, and perhaps actors, only writers get to do that multiple times, to “go with the action and see what it is all about” through their stories and the fascinating characters that inhabit them.
To me, that’s continuously inspiring.
About the Book
Author: C.M. Story
Genre: YA Fantasy
Adrienna Vedica longs to build the creatures living in her imagination. One day, she hopes to sculpt them out of stone, creating great statues like those that guard the Celany village.
She doesn’t understand why everyone seems to disapprove.
It’s only when Tishaan, a powerful man in the high council, agrees to help her sculpt that Adrienna is finally able to pursue her passion. She dives into her work, but creates with such energy she collapses from exhaustion before seeing the final results, giving Tishaan time to hide her masterpieces away.
Her mentor, Sreng—the man she secretly loves—tries to convince her that Tishaan is using her, but she can’t abandon her art. Only when people start showing up dead does she think again. There’s something off about Tishaan…and then Sreng shows her one of her early works.
But something is wrong.
It’s alive. And it’s digging a grave.
C.M. Story has always been a fan of fantasy in all its many forms, including the kind she frequently indulged in during boring lectures in school. She didn’t try her hand at penning her own stories, however, until long after she’d gotten her Bachelor’s degree in music.
Once she sold her first short story, she got a writing job and never looked back. Today she runs a successful freelance writing and editing business out of her home in Idaho, and frequently travels to other inspiring places with her trusty laptop in tow. And yes, despite rumors to the contrary, “Story” is her real last name.
“Rise of the Sidenah” was inspired by gothic architecture, a tune by “The Calling,” and the idea that following the heart may cause pain, but is the only way to truly fulfill one’s purpose in life.
Find more at cmstorybook.com.