Thursday, 8 May 2008

Thirteen Stories I've Written (or will write)

This week I thought I'd show a little about how my creative process works, and divulge the inspiration for a few characters/stories that I've written (or am working on, at the moment).

So, let's jump in with a few stories that I've written:

1.) The first story I ever fleshed out into a novel-length tale was - for better or worse - written when I was just seventeen. It was originally supposed to be a short story for my Creative Writing class - just two or three pages - but I didn't write my twelve-page epic until the morning it was due. I got the highest marks in the class. The story - titled "Resolution for the Muse" centered around a rock musician in his late-thirties/early forties (note: not a rock "star") named David (...duh...) who falls in love with an underage fan - and works with her years later; needless to say, his marriage is already rocky, and this doesn't help.
Can anyone say "wish-fulfillment"? I knew that you could. The rock star inspiration in question was my burgeoning obsession - David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.

I'd still like to give this novel a shot, one day.

2.) Around this same time, I wrote a short story about a young drifter who wanders into a small Southwestern town which is on the verge of falling apart, due to unseen forces tearing at the very fabric of existence. Titled "Unity", it was crazily surreal, dealing with some supernatural themes, death and spiritual possession, bloodlust and revenge. Pretty heady stuff, for the time, and a little over the top for the school competition I entered it in. (I did get a PRIDE award for the most outstanding contributions to the school magazine, but I digress.) The inspiration for the drifter? A "Young Guns"-era Kiefer Sutherland.

3.) The Rock-and-Roll themed novel I mentioned before didn't leave my brain for a long, long time. An attempt at "world-building" (of a sort) wound up becoming a "prequel", dealing with the youth of the musician, and I found out a lot more than I ever expected! Called "Groundwork", it told the story of David's coming-of-age, his reluctant marriage to the "wrong girl", band politics, his affairs and tortured friendship with an enigmatic troublemaker named Mitch, whose career parallels his own - until Mitch's untimely and grisly drug-enduced death. Heavy stuff - but not as preachy as it might seem, here. The inspirations for David and Mitch? David Gilmour and a hodge-podge of musicians from Syd Barrett to Marc Bolan, respectively.

Again, I'd still like to give this series a shot...

4.) My first attempt at writing "erotic" fiction was surely laughable, but at least it was a try at writing a female lead. And hey, I still think it's an interesting story, really.
"Night Flight" is the story of a young woman named Catherine Skye Piper who works at a small Municipal airport in California. She is employed by a friend of her late stunt-pilot father, who died while training another pilot. When the roguish D.J. Curtiss arrives on site, she is swept into a clandestine whirlwind romance with him, despite the warnings from her boss that she should avoid this man like the plague. In time, the relationship is discovered, and when D.J. asks her to go away with him, she agrees - but she never anticipates the secrecy with which he conducts his gypsy-style life, or the secrets he refuses to divulge to her. The ending, I am pleased to say, was rather unexpected - my test readers never saw it coming, for sure. Heh, heh...
This story, as well as "Groundwork" were my first true attempts at character growth/arc, and I think they were quite successful.

5.) Some years later, after a seemingly endless writer's block, I found new inspiration after a visit to the UK. A new story was born after I started listening to the music of Pulp, a Brit-pop band which somehow never quite caught on in the US... Nevermind that, though - I was inspired to write a story, and I am eternally grateful for that.
The story, titled "The Right Girl (For the Job)" was the story of Hannah O'Neill, who applies for a job as a personal assistant on a whim, and finds herself moving to England to work for a most curious couple, indeed. She is hired by Amanda Pollard, a photojournalist and author, and her husband, Jon Davies, an artist and photographer of some renown. Amanda wishes for Hannah to assist her husband with his business commitments while she is away working on her own. To Hannah's dismay, she feels a strange attraction to the gruff and often unfriendly man, and there is a definite interest on his part, as well. In time, however, the truth is revealed: Amanda wishes for the two to get together, thus relieving herself of the burden of his "care and attention", and allowing her to work and/or devote herself to their large brood of children.
To make things worse, Hannah attracts the attention of a local ne'er-do-well at the local pub - a strange lad who draws her as much, or more, than her new employer does; and he has a history of his own, with the family she works for.

6.) That ne'er-do-well had a strong voice of his own, which simply would not be ignored. Soon, I started writing his story - "A Marginal Life (Well-lived)", and this became my obsession for the next six months of my life. The music of Pulp fueled my writing days and nights, and Burke Wilson emerged almost fully-formed onto the page. This story begins with the death of his mother when he is seven and ends when he meets Hannah O'Neill at the age of thirty-two, and it covers everything you could possibly imagine in between. This was the story I shared online in 2003, and it got remarkable "reviews" at the time (if only for the first six chapters, which was all I posted); in fact, it was what brought my husband and me to each other. :)
The inspiration for this story? The music of Pulp and Jarvis Cocker - and Jarvis Cocker, himself.

7.) More recently, I have begun writing stories involving Italy and Italians, since this is where I live and these are the people I deal with every day. The first story I have written with this inspiration is "Connections" - the short summary of which goes like this:

"The more you want something, the slower it is in arriving. I suppose this includes Italian trains.

So thinks Emily Spadon, as she begins her journey away from the place she has called home for the last ten years, Rovigo, Italy. Desperate to get back to the United States and put her failed marriage behind her, she is dismayed to find that a train strike has disrupted her travel plans and stranded her at her connection in Bologna. Furthermore, there is the matter of the stranger from the train who won't stop smiling at her.

When professor Davide Magnani offers his cell phone to assist Emily in changing her flight arrangements, a connection is made between two fragile hearts and a friendship is born. By the time they bid farewell that evening, Emily and Davide have found that even the smallest gestures of kindness have a way of growing into something better than expected. However, one final connection is yet to be made."

I am waiting to hear from several queries sent out for this short story. Wish me luck! The inspiration for this tale is complicated, but came about while I watched a travel show in the US. An episode of "Passport to Europe" was showing the city of Bologna, and it made me so homesick, I just had to write something down to pay tribute to my region's capital.

The inspiration for the character of Davide was twofold: his name came from a student of mine. The rest was a mish-mash of my imagination and the beauty of Bologna resident, Samuele Bersani.

How can you not love a guy with a bunny? Seriously!

8.) At the moment, I'm working on a WIP set in Modena, Italy. Titled "Grand Emilia", it is about a woman named Chiara - a single mother of two pre-teen daughters - and her struggle to meet a decent guy. When an oddball named Marco catches her attention, she finds herself put off by his peculiar manner and Maltese dog fixation. His friend Angelo, however, is a different story. Tall, blond, with grey-green eyes and a body that is tanned and fit to perfection in his tailored suits, Angelo seems like a long shot at best, and an impossibility at worst. His interest in Chiara takes her by surprise, but she eagerly dives into a relationship with this "perfect angel" of a man. Marco has some information that gives Chiara a few doubts, though she presses onward, in love with the dream of finding the perfect man to be a father to her girls, as well as her lover. Will she be able to find a future with Angelo, or will a secret from his past disrupt her plans?
The inspiration for Angelo is crystal clear: Kim Rossi-Stuart.

This brings us to works which are "in the pipeline" for the time being.

9.) "Il Bagnino/The Lifeguard" is summed up, thusly:

A young lifeguard named Eros gets all the romantic attention he can handle – and then some – when an aging pensioner indicates his interest, as well. The chance to earn enough money to buy a proper car plus a ring for his beloved takes him somewhere he'd never wanted to go – or did he?

The inspiration for Eros? A young Riccardo Scamarcio.

10.) "The €7,000 Crush":
A young man follows his heart's desire – straight into language lessons at the local language school. Too shy to approach the girl of his dreams, he engages himself into every course she takes – but should he see his colleague's interest, or is that in his imagination?

11.) "La Fermata":
An old man spends his days watching the world outside his window and soon becomes fascinated by one bus passenger in particular. A lifelong bachelor, he muses over the missed opportunities of his past, and begins imagining the passenger has played a bigger role in his life than he'd thought.

12.) "Il Parucchiere":
What is it about the stylist at the local salon that keeps his lady customers coming back? It's not his looks, that's for sure. It must be something in his…touch? The effect he's having on ladies of all ages is scandalous, and one skeptical woman is determined to find out what all the fuss is about.
"Ugo", the stylist in question, was inspired by none other than Roberto Benigni, on whom I've had a crush for nearly eight years now. What of it? ;)

13.) A two-fer, of sorts, composes this final tale: the two-part conclusion of the story begun in "Connections".

A Milano :
The professor from Bologna pursues his American interest to her hotel near Malpensa Airport. After post-dinner confessions he inadvertently spends the night with her – and the two part in the a.m. at the airport, after he determines their unanticipated common bond.

Ben Tornato a Bologna:
One year later, the couple of Connections /A Milano are reunited, and awkwardly consider the options before them after having conducted a courtship via the post and email. Their awkward connection looms between them, if only in his mind. A tragic event reveals a few secrets which remained hidden, before, and they must decide whether or not it is possible to go forward or if it is best to just let things go.

And there you have 'em; an exhaustive look at the projects which have kept - and continue to keep - me occupied in spite of myself, over the years. I hope you liked this probe into the depths of my mind, and...

I'm sorry, what?

Did I forget something?

Are you sure?

Oh! Right...

Scroll down, y'all...

For a change of pace, we go... *ahem*... "Down Under".

Michael Witt - Australian Rugby player.

Ciao for now!


Adelle said...

Thanks for the insight into your writing process. Fascinating. Happy T13!

Debora said...

Some diamonds in the rough up there maybe? Can't believe how Kiefer looked in that shot - I still like him :) Oh and thanks for the - um- inspirational shot at the bottom...nice :)

Sandy M said...

Nothing better than eye candy early in the morning! Happy TT.

grace said...

Whoa! My 4 year old's eyes popped out at that pic!

December said...

I Love your thought process here - I can totally follow along with these plots.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

This time, your plots totally kept my attention which didn't wander with the great eye candy.
AWESOME plots!!!!!! You rock!

Debbie Mumford said...

Lots of great ideas here. Always fun to peek inside another writer's process.

Tempest Knight said...

Great plot ideas! Love the pic of Keifer. *wiggles eyebrows*

Nina Pierce said...

Oh, wonderful plots. Love the pictures you chose to go with them. But um ... for sure the eye candy of the rugby player is just plain yummy! ;) Happy TT13!

Alice Audrey said...

It's interesting to see another writer's thought processes. Cool.

Paige Tyler said...

Very cool TT!


My TT is at

Bethanne said...

LOL you're crazy!
Me thinks I see a pattern here...
Keifer was a hottie back then, wasn't he?

Heather said...

Interesting insight into your writing process...

Shelley Munro said...

I like the sound of #7. Great inspiration too. :)

Gina Ardito said...

I'd forgotten how hot Keifer Sutherland was. Thanks for all the eye candy. Thank God it's not fattening!

Chloe Devlin said...

Fascinating insights into your creative process. I do think that you have an obsession with rock musicians that you should try and explore. :)

I liked the eye candy pic, but my first thought was that he must be relatively small if his hand covered absolutely everything so easily.