Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Blogger Mardi Ballou - Freudian Slips and All That

Hi! Thanks to Nine Naughty Novelists for inviting me to guest blog today! It’s a pleasure to be here. Pleasure is something I pay lots of attention to. Out at dinner tonight with my DH, another couple and a single friend, the conversation took a turn to the naughty, pleasure-evoking side when my single friend, A, and I misheard a word the other woman, B, used.

B claimed she said she populated a spreadsheet. A and I heard that as “copulated.” Needless to say, we cracked up. When we told B, she cracked up too—after first denying that she’d used the “c” word. Both husbands were rolling on the floor as we all discussed the possibilities of spreading the sheets for copulation.

Dear reader, as you might imagine, some aspect of our dinner conversation may inspire a future story—or at least show up in pages yet to be written. Right now the images need time to percolate.

Funny how inspiration arrives, or doesn’t. We writers have all had the experience of people announcing they have the perfect idea for us to write and then rattling off a premise. A source like that never works for me. Actually, I don’t know any writers for whom it works.

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources—but it has to be something that resonates for me. Sometimes I can identify a single event or news item or trip to the grocery story as the source for a story. For example, the only high school reunion I ever attended (or will ever attend!) was the inspiration for my Ellora’s Cave Quickie, Reunions Dangereuses.

Other times, the inspiration source is more complex. In Sherry Amor, an Ellora’s Cave novella Francisco, a macho Spaniard, chooses to deal with a life-threatening illness by pushing his lover, Elena, into the arms of another man, Rafe without telling either of them what’s going on. To a background of flamenco music, sherry and Christmas in the magical city of Seville, the three come together in search of a miracle of love.

Even though it ends on a hopeful note, Sherry Amor is one of the darkest stories I’ve ever written. Part of the inspiration came when my best friend’s husband was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I’m happy to report he’s doing great now. The other source was working with students from Spain. These stimuli came together and—voila! Sherry Amor.

Sometimes I have no idea what inspired a certain story. All of a sudden there it is. Byte Marks, a Samhain novella, came to me that way—and then inspired the two additional novellas in the Fangly, My Dear collection.

What inspires you, for writing or any other creativity? When inspiration hits, do you rush to write down the idea? Or do you just let it percolate and take it where it will?

By day she’s a mild-mannered language teacher. But after hours, Mardi Ballou’s wild writer persona erupts and entraps her in bondage…to her computer. Release comes only once she achieves her word count goal, at which point the maniacal chocolate monster will give her one sublime piece. And then she can spend time with her hero husband Lee, who gives great massages at strategic times. So Mardi writes what she knows— romances—hot and mainstream—for Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, NCP, Whiskey Creek, and Changeling. Also women’s fiction. Her most recent releases are, from Ellora’s Cave, Sherry Amor in e-book format and, in print, Long, Slow Ride in the Better with Age anthology and Triple Booked. The Fangly, My Dear series—Byte Marks, What’s a Ghoul to Do? and Playing with Matches—is in print from Samhain. Check out all of Mardi’s books, and more, at http://MardiBallou.com.


Meg Benjamin said...

Hi Mardi, thanks for joining us. Once upon a time, I'd have an idea and then wait until I had a convenient moment to go to my trusty computer. These days, I trot right over to that keyboard since I can't trust my memory to hang onto any idea more than a few minutes!

Maria said...

Hi Mardi- it always intrigues me when I read what inspires an authors story:)
Thanks for the post

Mardi Ballou said...

LOL, Meg, I know just what you mean! Sometimes I wish I could walk away with a recorder (an invisible one!) so I could dictate ideas as they come.

Thanks so much, Maria! I also like finding out "where" stories come from.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Welcome to the Naughty Nine, Mardi! I too love hearing what inspires stories and I loved your story about spreading sheets and copulating! LOL!

Mardi Ballou said...

Hi, Kelly,

Thanks so much for the welcome! This is a fun place to be. I know what you mean about spreading sheets and copulating -- who knew spreadsheets had so much sexy potential?

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