In a contrasting world full of the mundane and the unique, our Supa-Star authors often use the information around them to spark their page-turning stories. At Supanova in Melbourne, we asked these literary legends where they draw their inspiration from.
Christina Henry – Looking Glass, Alice, the Black Wings series
“A lot of the work I do is subconscious work. I don’t plan my books, I don’t outline, I don’t really start from any secure thing. Like, The Girl in Red I wrote because I had an image of a girl in a red hood with a bloody axe. That was it. So, I wrote the books so I could find out who she was. I don’t have a concrete way that I approach a story. Something just sparks and I write to see what happens.”
Alan Baxter – Served Cold, Devouring Dark, the Alex Caine series
“Everywhere. Everything. Constantly. Turning it into good stories is hard, but yeah, inspiration is everywhere. Often, it’s little things; it might be an interaction between two people or a small news item or something that catches my eye. A lot of the time though, good stories come when two or three things collide. A few things crop up and you realise they fit together in an interesting way and then you turn it into something weird and dark and suddenly I’m writing a book about it!”
Alison Evans – Euphoria Kids, Ida, Highway Bodies
“I always try to find things that I wouldn’t actually consume otherwise, just like weird stuff. I watched a documentary about a department store on Christmas Eve in like the ‘70s and the day-to-day goings-on. With stuff like that, and Pinterest – I really love Pinterest! Once you start pinning like three things, it’ll start suggesting things to you, and then it’s quite easy to visualise. This is a new thing that I’m working out as I go. It’s quite productive, it really works for me.”
Alison Goodman – Lady Helen trilogy, Eon and Eona
“Everywhere. Walking through life, observing as a writer – it’s part of the whole deal. So, it’s just looking at things with a slightly different slant: is there a story in there or a piece of conversation that you hear? The conversation sparks something. Newspapers are great. I think it’s all about watching people and thinking about motivations and why people are doing things. I think that’s fascinating.”
James Islington – Licanius trilogy
“From stuff that I’ve watched or seen or read. Other stories, basically, because I’ve always loved fantasy, and that’s where my inspiration comes from.”
Jodi McAlister – Valentine, Ironheart, Misrule
“All kinds of different places! One of my favourite things is just listening to people. I like listening to their little turns of phrases, because I think everyone speaks in a really interesting, unique way. Then, working backwards. What kind of person would develop that turn of phrase? I like working out people’s voices when I write, it’s a good way to begin. I’m a huge eavesdropper. If I’m in a café or on public transport, I’ll often have my headphones in but nothing playing so I don’t look like a huge creep. I love listening to people that way. I like people-watching, but because I’m not visual, it’s more – people-listening.”
Maria Lewis – The Witch Who Courted Death, The Wailing Woman
“This particular book series, which is all interconnected stories and characters that crossover into different novels, they’re all inspired by traditional monsters in one form or the other. It’s all about trying to do little remixes of the things that you stereotypically think about those monsters. They’re all female characters being portrayed as those monsters. So, it’s about subverting what people expect from vampires, banshees, witches, ghosts, even mermen. I’ve always been a massive fan of horror, the supernatural and the paranormal. I’ve always been a massive fan of comic books as well, so I try to do that idea of comic book storytelling where everything’s interconnected and interwoven. Stan Lee says, ‘every comic book is someone’s first comic book,’ so I made each book accessible for people who’ve never read the books before. But at the same time if you’ve been reading them from the beginning, then you get a little bit of a bonus, and you maybe recognise some things from pop culture, whether that’s monsters or mythology, that’s had a little bit of a switch up.”
Lead image: Maria Lewis, Alison Evans, Christina Henry, Alan Baxter, Jodi McAlister, James Islington and Alison Goodman at Supanova 2020 – Melbourne. Photo by Steven Yee.