Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Shaun Young for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Author: Shaun Young
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 06/30/2016
James Fisher’s memories of Earth are distant, replaced by the harsh realities of life on the planet Castor. As a “Half-Adapt,” James is one of many who were biologically engineered to survive conditions on Castor—and to labor for the benefit of the ruling class. Indentured to servitude, James has no way to defy or escape the severe caste system… until he meets Vidal Centa, his master’s nephew. The draw they feel toward each other is instant, powerful, and maybe even enough to move beyond the unyielding regulations of their society.
But not everyone blindly accepts the absolute power of the oligarchy. The Independence Society fights for freedom and equality, and since James shares in their ideals, he joins their ranks. Soon he’s faced with an impossible decision: continue the fight against the oppressors or choose the love of the young man who embodies everything the Society loathes. With a looming conflict threatening to tear the planet apart, James fears he cannot continue to fight if he wants to keep his relationship with Vidal.
If you’re a writer, or aspire to be a writer, or have even mentioned the possibility of becoming a writer out loud, there’s a good chance you’ve had the experience of being bombarded with questions by non-writers who find the whole idea vaguely mysterious and alluring.
Maybe some people like that kind of attention. I tend to find the whole process slightly intimidating, mostly because I’m usually left with the sense that my interrogators never seem to find my answers wholly satisfying.
By far the worst question in that regard is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ I’m not sure what people expect to hear in response to that, but I gather by the amount of nonplussed reactions I’ve gotten that ‘Uh, it depends’ isn’t really an acceptable answer.
Weirdly, people never suggest the most obvious source of inspiration: other books. Maybe they think that all writers work in a vacuum, independently producing parallel but totally separate stories that just happen to bear the distinct marks of the very particular cultural currents that washed them up on the shore for readers to find. Maybe saying that you find inspiration in other books sounds too much like plagiarism.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d say I get most of my inspiration from other books. When I was just starting out I used to have a very rigid, almost mechanistic view of inspiration. If I was trying to write fantasy, I’d read a lot of fantasy novels. (Even ones I didn’t particularly like.) If I had a sort of mystery-ish idea I’d read some mystery or crime novels, and never mind that neither of those are genres I’d usually seek out.
Eventually I realised that just scrabbling around for material probably isn’t the best way of looking for inspiration. This is the part of the post where I’d usually talk about how the proverbial lightning struck when I was writing Castor, but that was about five years ago at this point and I honestly can’t remember where I got the idea from. So instead let’s talk about a completely different book that you can’t buy yet because I haven’t finished it. (I’m not very good at this whole self-promotion thing.)
I remember reading a literary agent mention once that after the movie Inception came out she started to see a lot of books about people going into dreams or sharing dreams or otherwise getting up to dream-related shenanigans. This struck a chord with me, because I saw Inception the day it came out and also came up with an idea about psychic dream adventures.
The problem I had was that Inception, but, like, more realistic and less guns’ isn’t exactly the stuff of great writing. So I set the idea aside and waited for it to magnetically attract itself to something else. As it happened, there were several something elses, which I’ll list in no particular order:
- Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, a book about clones who are raised to have their organs harvested for transplant in a world that is otherwise completely identical to our own.
- The experience of sitting in a hospital waiting room.
- A brief stint working in a ‘secure unit’ for teenagers with behavioral problems.
You might notice that only one of those things is a book. If I had scoured Amazon for examples of great speculative fiction published in the year 2013 (I’m a really slow writer), I guess I might have come up with some sort of literary chimera that would have felt like a pale imitation of what other, better writers had already done.
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with taking your inspiration from other books, or from fiction in general. But I’ve always firmly believed that the most original and surprising stories come from the most unusual places – from an experience that nobody else has had or from the unexpected synthesis of two totally disparate ideas. It’s probably not true that the best ideas necessarily arrive by the most circuitous routes, but I think that might be one way for them to enter the world.
I suppose what I’m trying to say with all of this is that you shouldn’t put limits on where your inspiration comes from. It could be the book sitting on your shelf that you still haven’t started. It could be something that’s going to happen to you tomorrow morning, big or small. It could be something from deep in your past, something that’s about to be dredged up to the surface by that other thing tomorrow morning.
Gather it all up. Hoard it, if you can. It might look like a useless pile of junk now, but given it enough time and it could transform itself into your next great idea.
About the Author
Shaun decided he was going to be a writer at the age of fifteen because it would mean being able to live anywhere in the world.
Since then he’s managed to remain in Ireland, mostly by choice, but the dream lives on. His passion for writing has never diminished, and to this day he’s happiest when surrounded by books. A computer and science nerd almost from birth, he now writes YA science fiction and spends too much time coming up with new concepts for stories that he’ll get around to writing any day now.
Feel free to get in touch with recommendations of unusual, strange, unsettling, or otherwise intriguing books. His to-read list is already obscenely long, but there’s always room for one (or ten) more.
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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