Some of my real life inspirations
Most of my stories have grown from an experience in my life. Not specifically, I haven't seen dragons, uncovered a murder mystery or owned a zombie dog (wait, I have done the last one), but I've heard a conversation, watched a behaviour or been in a situation I've found laughable enough to write about.
When my eldest daughter started getting interested in dog showing, we'd attend the shows and I started to think it would be a great micro-culture for a murder mystery. The Pirate Girl included a character based on the tenacity and passion of my youngest daughter. And of course, there's our zombie dog.
Fossil has never been right in the head. She's one of those typical tiny dogs that feels the need to prove themselves against every other dog, visitor, postman or vacuum cleaner. We have three dogs, but have to keep the little one away from our Border Collie, Zoe. Fossil starts many fights with her, but Zoe's able to finish them. I can't tell you how many times I've been convinced Fossil was done for. I always tell the rest of the family the dog's been dead (she certainly looks it) for years, and is just waiting for someone to dig the hole. This fluffy psychopath has been the inspiration for my new WIP - My Zombie Dog.
Chapter one of My Zombie Dog begins with a dog burial after Zane's mum brings home a mutt that instantly dies. I remembered having to bury my last dog, Scruffy, after 17years of friendship. Matilda was only about four and was caught shortly afterwards dragging a shovel towards the grave. When asked what she was doing, she informed us she wanted to play with Scruffy. Funny, creepy, but funny. A little sister does a similar thing in My Zombie Dog, except with a plastic spade (just a little less creepy).
You have to be careful not to stick too closely to real life for fiction for several reasons:
- It's usually not quite as funny as your imagination can make it.
- Just because it really happened, doesn't make it believable for the reader.
- You could offend someone if you depict them in a way that is obvious (this could also be a legal issue).