When I was asked about the five things that I could not live without, my mind immediately went to the obvious: air, water, food, gravity, and the forward movement of time. Then I figured that I should probably look at it a little less seriously and focus on writing. That was even less fun, because I was reduced to simply needing a writing instrument (pen, pencil, paint, chalk, crayon, or a catsup bottle) and a surface (paper, a wall, the inside of a cave, a cocktail napkin, or a billboard—which might get me arrested). Thus, I decided to look at the things that make my writing style the way that it is.
Television – Goofy sitcoms are a great way to clear the stress of the world and let my thoughts flow. Well-acted dramas are good too, because they help me think past the scripted context and look for meanings between the lines. This really helps when it comes to character development.
Counter Culture, Cult, and B-rated movies – A good movie will suck you in. A bad movie, albeit in a good way, gets you thinking about how it could have been better. A counter culture film that cheesed me off by chickening out and not taking the story far enough inspired my first novel, Love’s Forbidden Flower.
Music and Musicians – Music always inspires me, even when I am not listening to it. It has a heavy presence in each of my books, especially the chick-lit, rock and roll fantasy, Scary Modsters … and Creepy Freaks. One of the main characters, deceased rock star Peter Lane, was loosely based on a real life rock star. Music always slips into my stories, whether it is obvious to the reader or not.
My years of acting and theatre training – I highly recommend that all writers, of any genre, take acting classes. When you take part in character study, you have to go beyond the obvious words and actions in the script to understand your character’s motivation. Just reciting lines on stage or in front of a camera makes for a poor performance. However, once you delve into the meat of the character, he or she becomes three-dimensional. For example, knowing your character’s favorite color is blue may mean that she loves to stare at the sky. What happens to most people when they spend a lot of time staring at one thing? They often daydream. Daydreamers are hopeful. Maybe I want my character to see life as an adventure. Then I might make her favorite color deep green like the wilds of the jungle. Does she like outdoor sports? Does she hunt? Would she use a gun or a crossbow? Acting teaches you to ask questions that help your characters to become real.
World Vision – I have been told that my biggest strength comes in writing from my heart. I like to believe that anything is possible and that wearing your heart on your sleeve is more of a virtue than a risk. I believe that screwing up is a part of human nature, and what tells character is how the person handles his or her mistakes. I write with my heart. If I concealed my love of the world, my writing would be vastly different.