The Power of Inspiration and Research when Crafting Your Book.
When writing a book everyone needs inspiration. It can be anything, from a life event to a picture or even a scene in a movie that makes you go "I wonder how a character I write would handle that situation". Whatever it may be, every book starts with a little seed of inspiration from something that draws its author to create it.
For me personally, this came after years of reading fantasy stories with my mother and grandmother and the Pendant of Dragons book series came from one simple thing. As a child I saw a picture of a girl in a green medieval Celtic dress with long flowing brown hair and fair skin riding on the back of a green dragon that was flying around a tower as magical fires were thrown at them. I don't actually remember whether this image was from a movie, a TV show, a cartoon, a book, an artwork or just something I dreamed one day as a little kid. Now I think it was probably the dream option, but however I came across it I was inspired. And as a little kid I started drawing pictures of that girl and dragon and telling my Mum the stories, right up until I had her so flustered with trying to do Mum stuff that she sent me to my Grandma and told me to sit and write it all out. Which I did. I started with working out who the girl was, who her dragon was and how they had come to be together. What was it that connected them? An idea came to me, which I'm sure was from Grandma who always had some kind of necklace on and even carried a crystal pendulum around her neck. A magical pendant.
That was the beginning, the words to explain the pictures I drew and the images in my head given to me by Mum and Grandma. It wasn't until 1996 that I actually got on a computer, still as a child, and began to type with my Mum that Pendant of Dragons was named and truly created. For me a lot of my inspiration came from my mother and grandmother as they told me stories and folklore of our English and Celtic heritage, taught me the magical histories of our family - something Mum did up until she passed - and helped me to find the names to give to characters yet to exist. Leander came from my Mum, a name of heroism and actually a Greek male name that had become the name of my vulnerable but growing heroine Princess Leander Aldrich the Second. But even that has its own inspiration.
The first version of my books are in the form of a four book series that is unpublished and follows Princess Leander the First, who is now referred to as the Great Heroine in my published works. These were the first incarnation of High-Realm and its people, born from a map I drew and the sketches I did as a much smaller child inspired by the Legend of Zelda, Flight of Dragons, the Arthurian Legends, Dragonheart and The Lord of the Rings. I even named my original dragon Daroc and the evil dragon Corad, both an anagram of Draco, which for a six-year-old is pretty clever. In fact, it's only as I write this that I've realised the names were also mirrors for each other, like how Alucard is the mirror of Dracula. And this is one of the fun things you discover as a writer: your younger self can leave you so surprised as you grow into a professional author and look back to write a blog about about you came to create your work. Rereading my old work now I realise how sophisticated it was and how I worked on it for six to fifteen years of age only to then begin the now published first book of what I've unofficially called "the Descendant's Stories" in 2010 in my twenties.
The decision to begin the series I have been publishing came from a simple desire: I had completed the four original stories and wanted to go back to High-Realm. I must have worked on so many variations: Leander's daughter like following the old Star Wars books I read as a teen, High-Realm entering this world like the Never-ending Story, a Harry Potter-esque idea with a magical school, a fortress city in the cliffs like an old book about dinosaurs and people living together whose name I can't remember. None fit for me. And who was the new heroine? I knew she'd be a girl descended from my original character or my original character herself, and the name Leander refused to budge away from me.
Finally, thanks to my character Ellora, the wood elf who appeared in both series, I came to the decision of naming the new main character after my first. Leander Aldrich the Second was born that day. From there it was a single scene in my head that became the basis of the first few chapters of the book: what does this new Leander, a princess raised in a castle by her parents, do when she is abducted by mercenaries hell bent on bringing her before a mysterious villain; the same villain who haunted her ancestor in the first books? And so the Shadow Lord returned and The Aldrich Legacy began to take shape.
But writing the first book in a whole new series required me to do a lot of research. So, as a start, I watched every medieval and fantasy movie I could find and tried to imagine how my characters could fit, who I was developing around Leander and her dragon, in various situations before me. I went the next step further and bought video games like Dragon Age, anything fantasy that allowed character creation and customisation, and took on the role of Leander traversing someone else's world to help me get the feel for her and her thoughts. In the process, Dragon Age taught me some great lessons on dialogue and characterisation. I read books from the library, which I had been doing since I was a child, researching different weapons, armour and clothing as I worked on building the world Leander and her friends would live in. That resulted in a map to replace the original, which was lost, and inspired the kingdoms that are featured in the series. As I worked on the story I also developed my voice as an author. I experimented with point of view and tenses until I had the one that felt right for me and my characters. First person past tense became my standard and I even had to rewrite some of my work on The Aldrich Legacy to first person. This revelation came from writing a single scene that hasn't become anything, but was a good test run. Test scenes are very valuable when writing stories and researching your world. Sometimes they can be nothing but a short go-nowhere story, other times they can end up like the dressing room scene from Book 2: Custodians of the Past where it inspires the story and ends up becoming a chapter.
As I've continued to work on the series I have done lots of research. The internet is very useful but comes with some important pieces of advise that I've been taught and learned on my one. Number one, read EVERYTHING fully. Never just read a headline on Google and assume that you know it all. You don't. As a rule, we know nothing and the point of research is to discover and develop. By doing this you may find an idea changing and evolving into something better or being discarded. Number two, your browser history is going to be questionable, which should make you laugh. As writers we research so many things and there is a running joke in the community that criminals and writers have the strangest search histories. This seems true. Mine went from what parts of a dress is called, to various methods people were tortured with, to how do mermaids mate and what is the bone in the groin called and even how to write a sex scene. These are just some of the things I researched and they're definitely strange but interesting. Get comfortable with writing the weird and interesting.
Research can be a fun thing as an author and it should be embraced strongly. It only enriches the story, world and characters that you'll create. But the most important piece of advice I've learned is to stick with what inspires you, what feels like your story and write it. It doesn't have to be 100% perfect or unheard of, it's how you write it and how it resonates when you read it. The biggest rule for all authors is write the book YOU would want to read. You'll definitely find that there are readers who will be excited about it as much as you are and maybe you'll inspire them to be writers too. That's one of the best compliments you can get.
Written by: K. Isabella Frost
⭐K. Isabella Frost was born in Melbourne, Australia, and comes from a long line of English Mediums as well as storytellers. From a young age, her mother was teaching her about reading, writing, and art which led to her love of literature and her interest in stage and film. She trained at the College of Creative Arts and Technology in Music Industry (Drama) and was mentored by Charles R. Slucki of Theatrica who encouraged her as an actress, a writer, and a psychic. She has also been trained by the wonderful instructors and psychics of Mystical Dragon Mystery College and Emporium in Seaford as an oracle reader, medium, and intuitive healer. She is also training as an Atlantian High Priestess. She has been writing since the age of eight after her mother told her to start writing down her stories. She has a great love of fantasy and the supernatural and uses some experiences in her life to give her characters depth and emotion.💫
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