Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Guest Post: Linn B Halton talks about inspiration

Today's guest post has been written by author Linn B Halton who talks about inspirations for her writing.

I was talking to someone recently about their dream to sit down and write one day, hopefully sooner rather than later!  To be honest (reading between the lines – more about what she didn’t say, than what she said) she’s been putting it off, simply because she doesn’t know where to begin.  In conversation she mentioned that she often had moments of inspiration but never when she was in a position to write anything down.

It struck a chord with me and made me realise that whilst I didn’t begin writing novels until 2009, my planning started very early in life.  When I did eventually sit down to write I already had a journal of very random jottings. Sometimes it was just a few words, a part-sentence.  Sometimes it was a ‘feeling’ or something I’d witnessed that I had described in great detail.  Occasionally, it was a description of a character, usually their traits rather than physical appearance.  Ironically when I sat down to write my first novel I didn’t even open the cover to look at my precious notes.  I sat in front of the screen, thought hard until a title popped into my head and I was off and running.  I had no idea where I was going, but I found the opening lines made me excited to be at the start of the journey.  “Dying was, quite frankly, incredibly easy.  One minute I was there and the next minute I was ‘here’, wherever ‘here’ is.”

I wrote five manuscripts in eighteen months, barely stopping to eat, sleep or have a normal life – it was intense!  The second manuscript was a real-life account of why I now believe in the existence of life after death.  Again, my journal lay untouched, this wasn’t something I had ever intended to write and I do believe I had a little help from the other side.

Number three was The Quintessential Gemini, a fun love story about a woman who lives her life according to her daily horoscope.  I recalled a few random notes I’d made quite a long time ago and at last my journal came into play!  I found the inspiration for the title and the traits of the lovely Katherine Dale, the lead character.  I probably had no more than half a page in total, scattered over numerous pages but I went through extracting the bits that seemed to call out to me.

Number four was ‘Never Alone’ (not yet released) a psychic romance with a little chill to it and this one was inspired by a few things I’ve personally experienced.  However, two of the characters were in my journal, waiting to have life breathed into them. The moment I read my scant notes they were clearly in my head and I knew this was the story for them.

Number five was The Restaurant @ The Mill and again, I scurried back to my journal to check out some entries I had made after visiting an old Mill many years ago.  This one was a little different though, because at this point I also had characters from my debut novel and Never Alone, whose stories were never finished within those novels.  The idea of a series of smaller stories based around an old Mill and the couple who ran it, seemed to feel right and another story began.

The point I’m trying to make is that when the time is right you find things will come together and even quite disparate thoughts will begin to link up. Rather like a jigsaw puzzle and even if you don’t have a plot, or any idea of where it’s going, it will lead you forward page by page.  What is important though is that you hold onto ideas that float around randomly in your head.  Whether you use a hand-held tape recorder or a notepad, it’s important to capture the essence of the inspiration and feel confident it will not be forgotten.

Unfortunately, I now see inspiration in everything – so when I’m chatting to someone, out and about shopping or visiting friends – all the time I’m observing life and my mind captures little pieces of information.  It can be one small trait that will give life to a new character.  With The Restaurant @ The Mill, giving someone a lift every week to the local gym for a year gave me all the research I needed to know about running a restaurant.

So there is also a moral to this tale – before you accept a lift, check out whether the driver is a writer. You just might find yourself immortalised in words ... fictitiously of course!

Thank you Linn, as I reader I often wonder how authors come up with the ideas for their books so this small insight was very interesting to read. 


  1. It's lovely to be here Shaz, thank you so much! I love interesting questions and this one really made me think.

  2. Hi Linn, I too find inspiration in the strangest places - but it is generally a situation rather than a fully formed person - that sparks my imagination. I like to make up my characters from scratch from the 'what if' situation I found inspiringm, but of course, it can be fun to 'let' people assume they are 'in' your next novel!