An idea is salvation by imagination.
—Frank Lloyd Wright
This week I am continuing my series of interviews about inspiration with multi-published Canadian author, Jude Mason. Jude writes in a variety of genres, stretching the boundaries at every opportunity. She has worked in print with Cleis Press, Phaze and Total E-Bound to name a few. Jude also has dozens of e-books available as well as a few in audio. There’s always something new in the works or coming out, including her most recent paranormal romance, Of Death and Desire, avalable at Phaze Books.
Check out her website for more information about this talented author and her work.
TSC. How do you define ‘inspiration’ for yourself?
JM: This is the simplest of questions, yet possibly the most difficult to explain to a non-writer. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Glancing through a window, I’ll see the same hedge, maple tree and lawn I’ve seen a million times before, but… and it’s that but that’s important. One time, I’ll see a movement in the trees and instead of it being a bird, it’s be a goblin peering at me. No, or course there’s no such thing, but it doesn’t matter, I’ve seen it and it’s the spark of something bigger. An entire story will flash, or perhaps just the bulk of it, and that’s the beginning.
So, what inspired me? The hedge? The knowledge that goblins lurk in among the trees? How about inspiration is simply imagination allowed to run rampant? Not only allowed, but encouraged?
TSC. What do you think first inspired you to become a writer/artist? Can you identify a moment or experience or influence that turned you in that direction?
JM: I honestly can’t recall one brilliant flash of inspiration telling me to become a writer. I just evolved from a childhood of creating plays for the neighborhood parents to writing those stories down when I learned to write. I’ve always had stories inside wanting to get out. When I read books, often I’d finish and decide the story might have been better if it went in another direction, or the characters needed to tell more about themselves.
TSC. Describe the ‘inspired’ you. What does he/she look or feel like?
JM: The inspired me can be a tad manic, is often incredibly distracted and can be very rude. I hate being distracted when I’m in that ‘zone’. Poor man I married sometimes makes the mistake of thinking I’m upset when I’m really just deep in character/plot/inspiration and if he dares ask me what’s wrong, I tend to growl.
TSC. What is your most ‘inspired’ work? Why?
JM: A piece I wrote some time ago called, ‘Scorpio Tattoo’. The story surprised me. I honestly have read it and am shocked that I came up with the twisty turns in the book. The characters were like my dearest friends and I wept with them when things weren’t going well. They lived in me and still do.
TSC. Who or what or where is your muse? How do you invoke your muse? Rituals?
JM: I picture him as a gnome like creature living under my desk plotting ways to annoy me with plots and snippets from different books I’ve yet to write. He’s also the terror who wakes me in the middle of the night with solutions to problems I wasn’t aware were about to happen. I adore him. I hate him. I can’t imagine life without him. I don’t invoke him, he simply arrives, dishes out the bits and bobs I’ll need, or not need, then snickers and vanishes.
TSC. What is your take on the notion that writing—or any creative work—is more about perspiration than inspiration?
JM: One follows the other. I’m inspired by whatever grabs me, whatever captures my interest/imagination at that moment. And it could be anything from a news show to a pickup truck passing me on the street. That’s the beginning of things. The actual getting it down, putting the story on paper/screen is the perspiration part. Without one, there is no other. One, may, at times, be thought of as easier than the other, but not always.
TSC. What do you think is the most common—or problematic—myth or misconception about inspiration?
JM: That you can learn it, that you can control it maybe. Inspiration comes and goes as it will. I believe you just have to keep yourself open to it and go with whatever you get and be glad of it.
TSC. What is the most ‘inspired’ work you’ve come across so far?
JM: I have a feeling this one is beyond me. I am amazed at the creative way some people put thoughts to paper, drawing me in as if I was the proverbial fish on a hook. I would never even attempt to choose one.
TSC.. List a few tools or practices or methods that work reliably for you to get you in the mood to create. How do you shift into your ‘zone’?
JM: I personally don’t have any rituals or tools to get me where I need to go. Coffee at hand is about the only thing I need. That and a little quiet. I don’t listen to music, or not often, while I come up with ideas. I have been known to check out calls for submission in order to jump start myself, but normally it’s just me and my kinky gnome guy.
TSC. What are you currently feeling inspired to do?
JM: I’ve got this idea flitting around that I’m hoping will solidify into something. Futuristic, sci-fi, mankind has used itself up and the dregs enslaved by some alien race that’s slightly sadistic, but mostly just used to being obeyed by its animal servants. One man escapes and so far, I’ve got him standing in a cave pondering his future. I’m not sure if he’s simply going back for his lover, thus causing one or more sets of problems, or if he’s going to try convincing the aliens that humanity aren’t just animals to be used. That will bring on more problems.