I often wonder where writers find ideas for novels, so I picked a few books to dissect. Granted, I had insider information about all three choices, one of which is my own, but I think the sparks that ignited these works provide interesting insight into ideas that drive our writing.
Sometimes, we write about a personal event or circumstance in order to understand it.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a story based on the author’s homeless childhood. Walls doesn’t hold back in this gripping and astonishing memoir that takes us through each squalid semi-residence of her youth. She asks the question of why parents behave as they sometimes do, and thankfully, resolves the question with a glimmer of understanding.
Sometimes, ideas come from dreams, an excursion, or just from relaxing on the sofa trying to figure out how we got into this strange business of writing. Years ago, my friend Vlad V. wandered along the banks of the Merrimack River in Lowell, MA. Since his writing leans toward dark subjects seasoned with humor, satire, and fantasy, he thought about what it would be like to find a skull, and the wonderful novella Yorick was born. In the novella, the lonely old woman who finds the skull imagines it coming to life. For a while, she’s happy. Then the relationship turns sour and the Girl Scouts arrive. I won’t give away the ending . . .
Sometimes, inspiration finds us. My WWII novel, Amber Wolf, is such a case. When I was going through my uncle’s papers after he died, I found a manuscript and handwritten notes that told the story of resistance fighters opposing the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe in 1944. It drove me to research WWII history for the facts behind the novel. Soon, I began a new story that told of the vacuum left in families affected by deportations, the passion of the resistance movement, and the suffering women endured during the occupation. The result was a story about a strong woman survivor in a tale steeped in tradition, folklore, patriotism, and history. Details are on the Pinterest board Amber Wolf and the Faces of WWII.
All three novels are very different, yet all three reflect the passion of the writers. Whether you write, paint, cook, or dabble in carpentry, where do you find your inspiration?
A woman of Eastern European heritage, Ursula grew up on a dairy farm in central Massachusetts, and became a high tech engineer. Her stories have appeared in Everyday Fiction, Spinetingler Magazine, and the widely popular Insanity Tales andInsanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear (October, 2015) anthologies. She is the coordinator of the Nashua chapter of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, and a winner of their regional fiction contest. Recently, Ursula was named Marketing Director of The Storyside, a book marketing and publishing cooperative.
Her award-winning debut novel, Purple Trees, available in print and Kindle, portrays rural life in the story of a naïve girl who must grow up fast to find work and build a future, when the weight of the past threatens everything she loves.
Ursula taps her Lithuanian heritage in her second novel, Amber Wolf, a saga of love and war. After her mother is murdered in the torment of the Russian invasion of 1944, Ludmelia Kudirka flees to the safety of the forest. Vowing vengeance, Ludmelia joins the partisans fighting for freedom in a David-and-Goliath struggle against the mighty Soviet war machine. Amber Wolf will be available in 2016.
While her roots are in rural New England, Ursula has traveled widely. She lives with her husband in Massachusetts, and has a daughter in college. Ursula scuba-dives, swims, and is an avid hiker.
Visit Ursula’s popular Reaching Readers Blog on her website () for flash fiction stories, and information about upcoming appearances and publications.