“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The best part about I&I posts? Writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want: their new book, series or career as a whole.
We are delighted to be the first stop in the Unspoken Blog Tour and to have Smuggler-favourite Sarah Rees Brennan back to the blog today talking about her Inspirations & Influences for her book Unspoken, Book 1 in her new PNR/Gothic YA series, The Lynburn Legacy.
Please give a warm welcome to Sarah!
INSPIRATIONS AND INFLUENCES OF UNSPOKEN
Hello smugglers, my old friends! I am very happy to be back today talking about my new book Unspoken, the tale of Kami Glass, a sassy girl reporter with an imaginary friend who turns out to be a real guy, and one of the sinister family who live in the Gothic manor on the hill above her town.
I used to get super annoyed when people compared my last series, the Demon’s Lexicon, to Supernatural: I always said that if I was ever going to be inspired enough by a TV show to write a book, that TV show would be VERONICA MARS
A smart, funny show starring a smart, funny girl, trying to solve a cool mystery, in an atmospheric world. What’s not to like? What better show could I aspire to? Smart and funny are the two things I want most in a protagonist.
This is going to sound a little weird. But okay. Hot Fuzz.
A funny movie about a tiny English village full of sinister secrets? Maybe I didn’t want to go quite as broadly into comedy, but the village was so CHARMING, and yet there were ALL THE MURDERS. I like the contrast!
So I went and stayed in a tiny charming English village called Broadway. They ARE secretly dangerous places: I was attacked by a tiny goat and a fountain that sneaked up on me.
Oh, books were the motherlode of inspiration here.
SARAH: This is one of those books that you know, have a spooky manor, and a creepy family with terrible secrets, and a main character in danger and worried about everything around and their own mind…
AGENT: A Gothic novel!
SARAH: Well sure if you want to put a label on it…
I amassed a whole Gothic novel bookcase. Girl meets spooky man, girl meets spooky manor… girl is torn between the two, spooky man does not come with mortgage and heating bills but has issues of his own…
Jane Eyre is the Gothic novel that taught me how crazy Gothic heroes can be:
I also noticed that people get buried alive more often than they eat sandwiches (catering in Gothic manors is terrible, but if you hang around long enough, you have an about eighty per cent chance of getting buried alive).
There was also a Gothic novel where the devil possesses a cat, and gets the kitty to grab a letter in its teeth and creep off. Kitty steals a letter! Gives a whole new meaning to the term cat burglar.
Cats who steal letters are not the norm. But the spooky manor, the creepy family and the secrets are all key parts of a Gothic novel. And all that is awesome, but I wanted a fun approach to a Gothic novel: I wanted to make one mine. So I thought: what if a boy was the one trapped in the Gothic manor and not the girl? Which frees up the girl to do something else…
I was inspired by girl detectives, because who better to solve a mystery than a girl detective?
Nancy would have detected a madwoman in the attic really quickly, that’s all I have to say…
It’s not just Gothic romance. I love romance novels generally. I own a ton of them, My favourite contemporary romance novelist is Jenny Crusie, second favourite is Kristan Higgins, and for YA I lead a Stephanie Perkins appreciation life. I love how they are very personal explorations of two people, of their pasts and futures and how they come together: there is such an importance placed on individuals. If it’s a great romance, you remember these two people very particularly, and the way they feel about each other is very particular to them. (At one point in Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler makes an indecent proposition to Scarlett, she shuts him down with a quickness, and then the door sticks and he slams the door indignantly for her. In a favourite romance novel of mine, the hero besmirches the heroine’s reputation, she tracks him down and shoots him, and soon after they are married. Weirdos being weird together: I like it!)
I wanted to write my own. But, as you may have already noted about me, I wanted to put my own weirdo spin on things.
A friend of mine always says you’re just as inspired by the things you hate as the things you love: I was always inspired by the things that made me think: I’d love to turn that one RIGHT ON ITS HEAD.
I’d read a few different books in which the heroine and hero could speak psychically (many were vampire novels and kind of porntastic, but that’s by the by… get it, psychic vampires, say I…) but it was always seen as romantic, but I sat there and thought: it would be terrible in a way, too. So: not a girl who meets a stranger she can psychically connect with, but a girl who meets her imaginary friend, someone she’s known all her life, and has to deal with the imaginary made real and scary. We’ve all had real life be radically different from our imaginings: we’ve all felt a kind of terror about other people’s physical reality.
I’ve also read all these books set in America about The Exotic Boy—he’s often English, which as my mother is English is just like a boy next door to me—and I thought it would be fun to have two American boys come to a small English town. One of them, Ash, is very glamorous! The other, Jared, is a lunatic, but in a chiseled way.
I wanted to write something that seemed different, with people who were genuinely strange, who have jagged pieces that might fit up against each other … or might hurt the people they are closest to.
And also be funny. I hold this truth self-evident: if people haven’t made me laugh, they don’t have a chance of making me care enough to cry.
We have TWO copies of Unspoken to giveaway! The contest is open to ALL, ANYWHERE and will run until Saturday September 15 at 12:01am EST. In order to enter, use the form below. Good luck!