Saturday, October 27, 2012

Inspired By Images: How My Muse Works

By Ellery Adams

A question that's always thrown me for a loop is: where does your inspiration come from?

I never knew how to reply because I haven't actually thought about how I cobble a book together.

Sure, I know that all revolves around my characters. They do speak to me and make demands and I have goals for each one. I know which mistakes they need to make, which people they should kiss (and shouldn't kiss but do anyway), and how they'll grow, but it wasn't until I began writing the 4th Books By the Bay mystery, WRITTEN IN STONE, that I realized that I am very influenced by objects and images.


In the middle of an eBay search, I happened to see a listing for a pottery memory jug. I was absolutely fascinated by all the objects embedded in the clay and wondered if they were like a scrapbook of someone's life. Intrigued, I started researching memory jugs.

A few days later my husband's medical journal arrived and for some reason I glanced at one of the articles on the front page. I never do this, but I was intrigued by the photograph of a Lumbee Indian. I've never heard of the tribe before and was surprised to learn they were from North Carolina. Again, I began to research and between the jug and the history of the Lumbee tribe, a seed of a plot idea began to form in my mind.

The third element came from some old and not very good movie or TV show I was watching when I was half-asleep. I can't even remember what it was about, but there was a wonderfully wrinkled lady fortune teller in it and I found her very, very interesting. I turned off the TV, but her face stuck with me and when I got into bed, I closed my eyes and saw her as a Lumbee Indian. As a potter who made memory jugs. As a character who would meet Olivia Limoges.

And that's how Written in Stone was born. Out of these seemingly disconnected images and objects. I love this book and hope you will too and I hope you'll look for the jug, the fortune teller (I call her a witch), and the Lumbee.

Written in Stone comes out November 6th! Happy Reading!







11 comments:

Adrienne said...

Hi Ellery! One of the reasons I want to go to Malice Domestic is that I want to sit in on a panel that discusses how you great authors come up with your stories. Thank you so much for sharing about these three elements that influenced your newest book. I have so enjoyed your first three Books by the Bay. There is a depth and breadth of intelligence and emotion in your work not all Cozies have. My favorite was The Last Word. I am so looking forward to Written in Stone and will enjoy it that much more knowing how your muse was at work! Thanks again... Adrienne in MN

Lori Cimino said...

That was fascinating to read Ellery. I think I could sit and listen to you talk about your books and writing for hours. I had never heard of a memory jug but now i think i must have one! As always I cannot WAIT to read your latest offering.

Lori Cimino said...

That was fascinating to read Ellery. I think I could sit and listen to you talk about your books and writing for hours. I had never heard of a memory jug but now i think i must have one! As always I cannot WAIT to read your latest offering.

Aurian said...

This sure is a good post, thank you for the insights. I am looking eagerly forward to reading the new book.

Lizzie said...

I've always wanted to keep a "character book"....a little notebook to carry with me where I can jot down descriptions of people I meet that fascinated me for one reason or another....maybe not give them an exact identity per se, but note their character, mannerisms, etc. I always think in the future it may serve as inspirations for writing:)

Kate Midnight Book Girl said...

I love this post! It's always interesting to know what sparks a writer's imagination and what from real life ends up in their books. I'm definitely going to check out memory jugs, the picture you posted looks amazing!

Annette said...

I look forward to the book. You have made it so interesting. Thanks for sharing the insight.

Ellery Adams said...

Aw, shucks, ladies! You've all made me smile with your sweet and supportive words! Thanks!

IYamVixen2 said...

Thank you for sharing how this book came to be. I have had it on pre-order for quite some time and cannot wait for 6 Nov.

Nancy said...

Ellery, this is fascinating! When I read the book there'll be much added enjoyment from learning a bit about your inspiration. The memory jug looks wonderful. I'd like a closer look. Wouldn't it be a good project for the kids to make their own memory jug?

Fred said...

Very, very interesting on how Written In Stone came to be, for sure. Thanks for sharing. Jeanne Dams often shares how her books come from a tiny seed and grow into a wonderful story.

And Written In Stone was great!!!