Please welcome our Guest Author — M. Leon Smith
Where do ideas come from?
As an author, the question I have been asked repeatedly is: “Where do your ideas come from?”
I have thought long and hard about that, looking for a witty, pithy response that will raise a smile and, hopefully, garner some sales. I have ultimately, and hopelessly, failed.
I could ask myself, why did I write a story about a hen-pecked man trying (and failing) to make himself some food? Where did the idea about a man stranded, counting penguins, on an Antarctic island, come from? Why have I spent an inordinate amount of time writing about a group of super-powered teens?
The first two are a little more straight forward – they were written to prompt. The publisher, a website in their case, supplied some sentences to act as a starting point. Why those particular sentences gestated into those stories, I still don’t know. No answers here. What a rip off!, I hear you cry.
But the third, however…
In 2009, I ended up in rehab. Not the celebrity booze and drug fuelled kind, it was physical rehab following a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Because of the condition, I was suddenly a wheelchair user with numb hands and emotionally in a dark and scary place.
Then something wonderful happened…
I met some of the most inspirational people on the face of the planet. There was Trevor (names have been changed etc etc) who was paralysed from the neck down, fed through a hole in his stomach, robbed of speech, his independence destroyed. By the time I left rehab, he could speak for himself, was using a power chair to move around independently and had just started to transfer himself from bed to chair.
There was Andrea, who when admitted unable to move any muscles at all – including the ones on her face. This pretty young woman couldn’t even smile and that was heart-breaking. In the last picture I saw of her on Facebook, she was dancing in a nightclub. She had obviously won the battle.
I could go on and on. The ward I was on was a place of last resort and these people, like myself, had hit rock bottom. Yet they managed to come back. What about their stories would not inspire tales of super-heroes?
Those experiences led me to write the Blue Jackets series. Starting with ‘Induction‘, the story of Tim, a sixteen year old boy who has been told he has a disability, only to find out it is a super-power. Over the course of the story, he manages to control the power, train to be physically stronger, fall in love and then it all hits the fan… Life never runs smoothly and that’s more true for a teen (super-powered or not).
Buoyed on by the positive reaction to ‘Induction’, I continued the series with ‘Growth Spurt‘. Again, this story of teenager, Lydia, who gains everything she ever wanted, at the cost of everything she ever was, was directly influenced by people in rehab. Again, I’ve seen this repeated many times.
The third part of the series (but by no means the last!) is ‘Thursday’s Child‘. The concept of a disability as a super-power is explored but from a different angle. This time, Tuesday, our heroine has always been aware of her power and has learned how to live with it and exploit it to her advantage. All in all, a very different experience.
Of course, along with self-discovery, we have more fantastical elements. Intrigue, exploitation, manipulation, treachery and super-powered battles, all of which turns the stories into a exciting work of fiction rather than a mawkish treatise on disability. All three are available through Books To Go Now as eBooks.
So, where do I get my ideas from? In the case of the series of super-powered people, it’s because I know them personally. Sort of. In short, I write about what I know, albeit skewed through the fantastical lens of fiction.
But can I ask you, ‘Why are you so interested in where my ideas come from?‘. I feel that somehow people believe there is a wellspring of ideas that authors tap into. That if they only knew where the source is, they too could write. Time and again, people complain they don’t have an imagination, that they could never write a story. I don’t subscribe to that theory at all. I truly believe that if I can do it (and be published more than twenty times) anyone can.
I can’t wait to read your story…
Thanks for joining us today. We wish you the best.