(Updated from My Book: Origins.)
Fast forward to my book release interview with The New York Times, Sunday Book Review…
Interviewer: Kristen, your debut novel, Le Bourreau, is rising fast on best seller lists. Everyone is calling it the next great American novel!
Kristen: Aw gee, thank you [insert well-respected reporter name here].
Interviewer: What were the origins of your story?
Kristen: Le Bourreau originated for me in 2008 during a work trip to Washington, D.C. I had the TV on in the background while I was getting ready for a meeting. For some reason, I’d left it on a documentary about executioners. The stories of these historically well-educated, multi-generational professionals sparked my interest. I found myself thinking what a compelling character could come of that life and heritage. Setting it in 18th century Paris was only natural to the hero I’d immediately created and I started getting it down on paper (and in the computer).
This story and others originated from intriguing character ideas that started my storytelling wheels rolling. While a captivating character seems to be the main trigger for me, inspiration can come from anywhere: staring into the fireplace, looking in the rearview mirror, a question from a young child… We’ve already discussed the inspiration I find in the “journey” scene.
I love hearing how the muse reveals new stories. Celia Blue Johnson’s, Dancing With Mrs. Dalloway, is a great little book on some of literature’s best known works and how they were born. There are any number of quotes and sources talking about how every story has already been told in one form or another, but no tale is restricted to a single telling. Just learning writers’ origin tales is inspiring for current and future writers who can’t quiet those notions floating through our brains and (when we’re lucky) out onto the page.
What are your favorite origin stories?