August 10, 2009

Monday Muse #1: Author Interviews

Where do you get your ideas from?

It's the single most asked question of any successful author. Heck, even the aspiring authors get asked from time to time. It's a bit of an odd question, as anyone who has been on the receiving end will attest. There's a reasoning behind it when someone asks, though. I think it comes from the admiration of an author's work most of the time. You read a book you enjoy so thoroughly and unwaveringly, and you can't help but wonder: How the hell did he/she come up with that?

In my case, I think I was asked the question simply because the person asking had no idea I enjoyed writing. It came more out of disbelief than a genuine interest in where the inspiration comes from for the stories I write. You write? You? Really?

The ideas, in truth, come from everywhere. There's no road map to where they come from. They're like memories--not deposited in a single, compartmentalized section of the brain, but a confluence of synapses and impulses that buzz from one side of your head to the other. Ask a scientist to pinpoint where the ideas, dreams, and memories all come from and his own head will implode trying to come up with a consensual answer.

There are things I can point to, however, that can give some idea of how my ideas form. Which is why I'm starting this "Monday Muse" blog entry. Everyone has their own sources of inspiration. We don't always come away with something when we visit a particular well, but then there are times when we discover something useful we had no idea we were looking for in the first place.

For me, one place I've taken inspiration from has been found through author interviews. Lately, most of the interviews I've listened to have come in podcast form, though I have had the opportunities of catching patches of conversation on radio and television. There's something about hearing a writer's voice, as he discusses his work and the writing life, I find wholly engrossing. It's one thing to read an interview on the Internet or in print, but when you hear the voices there is a three-dimensional peephole into the author's world. A bit ironic I should find audio preferable to text in this instance.

In any case, I thought I would share some of the places I have managed to download and listen to interviews with authors of every stripe.

Authors on Tour Live - Tons of interviews and snippets with others from around the globe.

Diabolical Radio - Horror themed, with some very good interviews with authors like Brian Keene, J.A. Konrath, and John Saul.

Dread Media - Also horror themed, with reviews and discussions on films and books, plus those author interiews I like so much.

I Should Be Writing - Mur Lafferty is a writer with her own podcast, and her stories, advice, and interviews with others in the writing world are worth a listen.

The Next Chapter - A show on CBC Radio with a podcast archive. Nora Young interviews some of the most notable authors from around the world, with a healthy focus on Canadian literature.

Pod of Horror - Yet another horror-theme podcast. The most recent episode (#54) has two great interviews--David Morrell and James Rollins.

Writers & Company - Also on CBC Radio, this often goes into greater details of the authors' lives, but usually offers something entertaining.

The Writing Show - Interviews with authors, editors, agents, and others in the industry. This one is great for focusing on a specific genre or facet of writing.

If you have a podcast you'd care to suggest, feel free to leave a comment. Or maybe you'd like to leave your two cents on any of the podcasts I've listed. Tell me what you think. Do you ever find inspiration from hearing an author tell his journey through the writing world's morass?

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