Welcome Elise K Ackers!
Today I am pleased to introduce Elise K Ackers. Though she was born in New South Wales, Australia, she grew up in Western Australia, northern Queensland, Sydney’s Blue Mountains, and the Victorian Dandenong Ranges and is currently living in Melbourne. Whilst studying Psychology at university she was really just learning how to better understand her characters, so she eventually took herself seriously enough to change majors and study creative writing and editing. After experiencing success in a number of writing competitions, including winning the Romance Writers of America Unpublished Beacon Award writing contest for Small Town Storm, she is happy to publish with Penguin Australia’s new digital imprint, Destiny Romance.
The Man Plan, Elise’s second title with Destiny Romance, was released earlier this week. It is a light-hearted, contemporary romance about a young woman who goes looking for love, only to find it right under her nose. Cora is ‘over’ being alone. She has no family, and all her friends are couples. Fed up with feeling sorry for herself, Cora hatches a plan to find a good, loving man she can call her own. Her deadline is Christmas – she doesn’t want to spend another holiday by herself. Just as she decides her strategy, she meets Matt, her downstairs neighbor. They become unlikely friends, with Matt an amused bystander as Cora tries various methods in search of a man. Then something strange happens. Matt, who spends his life avoiding commitment, begins to feel jealous of the men Cora is dating and his resolve to never fall in love begins to crumble. Cora finds herself increasingly attracted to Matt. But is he Good Husband material? She thinks not. You can read my review of this charming romance HERE
Today Elise is answering one of the most common questions any author is asked, where does your inspiration come from? Read On…
There have been countless occasions when people have asked what inspires me and if I write about people I know. Personally, I am inspired by almost anything, but in most part, not people. Yet this begs the question: do I always know when I’m inspired?
I was standing in my study last week with my hands on my hips, admiring my ever-growing collection of books, when something made my pulse skip. My killer’s name; right there on the spine of a book. How had I never seen it before? There it was, the author’s name and my murderer’s identity, one and the same and a massive spoiler-alert for anyone who happened to see what I was staring at.
A coincidence? I would have thought so, if there hadn’t been other occasions when something similar had happened.
It was another case of subconscious inspiration. Something I had seen once or twice had somehow become pivotal in my manuscript. In this occasion, it turned out to be the answer to the most fundamental question in Small Town Storm: who dunnit?
I wonder now if I saw it when I was casting about for a name all those years ago.
Which brings to mind another example.
I used to live in a beachside tourist town named St Kilda. It was a short tram ride from Melbourne, the shaded streets were lined with Edwardian cottages and Victorian terraces, and I was so often walking around the neighborhood. I used the time to daydream and think about my writing projects.
One sunny summer afternoon I was walking a route I’d walked once before, and I managed to pass the names of all the board members in a fantasy book I’d written a year earlier. Street names, building names, a rusted sheet of metal with a faded advertisement – all of them had contributed to the identities of secondary characters. I was surprised and amused, and a little disappointed because I had thought some of my ‘invented’ names were rather unique.
I hadn’t set out to find names for these fictional people, nor do I recall consciously liking a word and vowing to use it somewhere. But through some strange kind of osmosis, those words sank into my subconscious and waited there until needed.
A not-so-subtle inspiration for my novel Unforgettable was the building site I worked on for over two years. But it’s difficult explaining to people what did and didn’t inspire me about that project. I was enraptured by the scaffolding, the dark corridors, the film of dust in areas waiting to be revitalised; even the obscure, sometimes ridiculous, nicknames the tradesmen had for one another.
It wasn’t until I reread the story for copyediting purposes that I realised how much my subconsciousness had reigned over my consciousness. There is a song in there which I associate with a one-off memory, and many references to the sound of safety boots and auditorium acoustics. For me, it all combined to give the book a kind of soundtrack. Everyone who worked on that job would have heard and focused on different things, but looking back, I feel that sound was my subconscious inspiration for that book.
My latest release, The Man Plan, is full of small references to moments in my life. Tiny references to tiny moments. Yellow chips at the basketball – I remember staring at them, wondering if they were safe to eat, and in the book Matt asks Cora this very question.
Who could have guessed that would be what I would take away from an exciting basketball game, and be what I would recall much later on when I was writing the scene?
Here’s a little fun fact: the male protagonist lives in my old apartment. I’ve since moved, but when I read the scenes now it’s so obvious to me that I was writing about elements of my old building. Like all of the above examples, that was not a deliberate decision. It kind of snuck its way into the story.
To date, my writing hasn’t been inspired by a person. It has been inspired by a sound, a street sign, a particularly rich batch of Canola oil… the list goes on.
Since realising this, I happened upon a particularly lovely detail in a fiction novel. I paused on the sentence and wondered. It was such a subtle thing, almost below notice and easy to miss; yet its very being there meant it was important to the author. So did she see this trinket once, in a shop perhaps? Did she own it? Or was it something she believes to be wholly imagined?
And if the author did believe she’d made it up, what would she say if she saw this trinket one day? Would it be a coincidence, or another example of subconscious inspiration?
If you’re a writer, what inspires you; and are you always aware of what you are feeling inspired by? If you’re a reader, how often are you able to link fictional moments or things to