by Jon Sprunk
I’m often asked, “What inspires you to write these stories?” It’s a question that many authors hate to get because it triggers responses on many levels and simple sound-bite responses feel . . . well, simplistic. I’ll try to boil it down the way I see it.
First, I’m inspired to write by things that I’ve read and seen. I’ve been reading fantasy and sci-fi since I was a wee lad, and it’s safe to say I had a rich imagination during my formative years. While my classmates were learning arithmetic and world geography, I was accompanying Frodo and the Fellowship to Mount Doom or soaring through the galaxy with Captain Kirk. While some may have deemed those boyhood daydreams as a waste of time, I see them as vital basic training. My mind was taking old stories and re-inventing them into new adventures. Those daydreams created a fertile bed for the seeds of my inspiration to grow.
One thing that all writers need is permission to create. It’s a difficult hurdle for some to cross. The world is always telling young people to grow up fast and be productive, to find a vocation (the more lucrative, the better), to find a mate, to have a stable home and family, rushing us along from one responsibility to the next right up until the grave. First and foremost, after creating an inner space for stories, a writer must give himself or herself permission to break away from convention and create stuff of pure whimsy, because inspiration shackled by the demands of the mundane world is no inspiration at all.
This desire to create, at least for me, soon developed into a need to explore the strange places in the world and inside my own head, and to report back on what I’ve found. A story is a complex weaving of language. Underneath the hood of even the most basic tale are components such as dialogue, narration, action, and emoting that are all designed and arranged to provoke a specific response. Like a piece of pointillism where the artist arranges millions of colored dots so that when viewed from a few steps away they blend together to create a picture, so the writer blends words into (one hopes) a unified story that connects the imaginations of the writer and the reader in something akin to Mr. Spock’s mind-meld. When it works, it’s pure magic.
Lastly, I’m inspired by the need to have my voice presented to the world. If that sounds egotistical, it is. Great writers (and plenty of good and middling writers, as well) have a driving need to be heard, to get these stories out of their heads and into the hands of readers who will, hopefully, appreciate them. Of course, fame and fortune can be nice things (and they’ll certainly make your parents more comfortable with your decision to spend hours each day working alone in your den when you could be out making more money or meeting the boy/girl of their dreams, etc…). However, every writer worth their salt wants foremost to be read, and all the other rewards come later, if at all.
Inspiration can come in many forms and from many places, but the most powerful inspiration—the kind that will sustain you through the months and years of writing a novel—comes from inside you. Feed it with books and stories, nurture it with permission to create your own worlds, and believe in it even when things look grim. I can’t promise it will always lead you to greatness, but it will always lead you somewhere interesting.
About the Guest Author
Jon Sprunk lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and son. His first fantasy novel, Shadow’s Son (Pyr Books) was published in 2010, followed by the sequels, Shadow’s Lure and Shadow’s Master. He is also a mentor with Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. For more on his life and works, visit www.jonsprunk.com.