Inspiration in Unlikely Places
by Mya O’Malley
What inspires you? It’s an age old question that invites a world of responses, depending upon whom you ask. Ask any writers that question and you may find yourself surprised to find where their muses and inspiration stem from.
Ideas can strike up almost anywhere and any time, I’ve come to realize. The more attention you pay to the finer details surrounding you, the more you come to realize that creativity can be sparked in the most unlikely places. Take vacations, for example. Once upon a time, a vacation was just that, a break away from reality to relax and enjoy oneself. As a writer, my vacations have taken on another dimension, one which only adds to the adventure of getting away and taking a break from the stresses of daily life. Not one to let semantics get in the way of my imagination, I consider each getaway an exploration of sorts – one which I can choose to absorb and bring back pieces of, forever etched on the pages of my stories.
Whether the destination be around the corner or around the world, inventiveness can strike in the oddest places. Take my novel, Maggie, for example. Maggie, the first in my paranormal ghost trilogy, now also available on Audible, is set in the suburbs of New York City, in a fictional town inspired by the property where my sister and her family reside. How could I pass up the opportunity to spin a tale based on a home built upon the outskirts of a cemetery during the 1700s? I’m not sure my sister appreciates the tale created around the setting of her home, but that’s another story entirely. From the suburbs of NYC to the commanding cliffs by the Hudson River, the story of Maggie is enhanced by a setting so fitting that the entire plot was woven around it.
Naomi, my second book in the Maggie trilogy, secures the above spot as its main setting, but my characters Naomi and Bryce find themselves on a weekend getaway in the fictionalized Cape Florence, inspired by Cape May, N.J. In such a town riddled with ghost stories, you know that Naomi and Bryce’s trip wouldn’t be complete without the appearance of Cape Florence’s resident ghost.
Last in the Maggie series, Lillie completes the trilogy with all the charm of the northeast and includes a bonus setting inspired by a recent trip St. Augustine, FL. Last spring I visited this charming southern city, one that holds claim to being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. The Spanish colonial architecture of this city is only the beginning of the sites you’ll enjoy while visiting this gem of a place. (Worth mentioning – I had to stop by Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth and, yes, I drank the water, which was probably the worst tasting water I have ever had, but hey, I had to try!) St. Augustine has so many tales of hauntings, I had a difficult time keeping track of them all; therefore, I hopped on a tour bus and got to visit many of the eerie sites firsthand. From St. Augustine’s Old Jail to The St. Augustine Lighthouse, I got my fill of tales that inspired yet another vacation spot for Naomi and Bryce to visit. Of course, their visit involved encountering many, many spirits, all of whom taunted Naomi and Bryce, but also provided them with clues necessary to stay ahead of Lillie, one spooky little spirit determined to cause them pain and misery.
A Tale as Old as Time, another of my ghostly mysteries, is set in an old seaside town which was inspired by the aforementioned town of Cape May. As a child, my grandparents owned a home in Cape May Point, N.J., a place that forever remains special to me. Fascinated by the majestic Victorian style homes in Cape May City, I delved deeper into the history of the oldest seaside resort in the United States. With such history must come ghost stories, right? You bet, and I devoured as many tales as I could before spinning my own tale of deceit, heartache, and ultimately a timeless love that brings a new meaning to the concept of a soul mate.
Along my travels I stumbled upon Block Island, RI. The small, isolated island had me at first sight. From the rocky coast to the small, quaint shops and the abundance of nature trails and towering cliffs, I was smitten. As I fit in as much exploration as I could, my mind was already thinking ahead to the pages I would ultimately write and the characters that would be born out of this trip to the island. Adelia and Hope became my main characters who found themselves intertwined and unable to separate themselves, both physically and emotionally, from the lighthouse that sustained and terrified them. The House that Adelia Built is now available and currently being produced as an audiobook which will be coming soon to Audible.
My vacation destinations wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the trip of a lifetime I took this past summer to Sydney, Australia. This past August, my daughter and I took the twenty-three hour flight together to this historic city of Australia. We stayed at a hotel set on the cobblestone streets of The Sydney Rocks, which is the historic area of Sydney’s city center, dating back to the 1700s. Our rooftop pool and hotel room views couldn’t be beat: we had a clear view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the left and The Sydney Opera House straight ahead.
My daughter and I took in a show at the Sydney Opera House named Aida, we visited The Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach, Bondi Beach, and, of course, our trip wasn’t complete without a nighttime ghost tour of the haunted streets and buildings of Sydney. My current work in progress, tentatively titled Timeless, reflects the setting of this beautiful city and kicked off the plot of this young adult fantasy novel. I can’t wait to share more details on this upcoming title soon.
What I learned from my experiences is a valuable lesson and one worth sharing. I discovered that adventures past, present, and future can open the doorway to unleashing a writer’s muses, plots, and settings. All you have to do is simply listen and you’ll be surprised to find out what sparks your next idea for a novel, not to mention the best part of all: think of all the fun you’ll have along the way.