Pinterest, Pandora and Inspiration

My Pinterest board for Guinevere-related pins.

My Pinterest board for Guinevere-related pins.

I had the good fortune to attend Deb Harkness’ book signing last week at my local library. During her Q&A session, someone asked who she pictured as the main characters. She gave a very PR-positive answer that she drew bits and pieces from different people and wouldn’t reveal who they were until such time as one or more of the component people are cast. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want any actor have to face the “but Deb said she envisioned so and so” question.

I get that and I totally respect that. I think Deb is doing the exact right thing. The only thing is, I don’t function that way. As many of you know, I tend to write my characters with a certain actor or actress in mind because it helps me envision the specifics of vocal inflection, facial expression or gestures. These things in turn, help me craft more layered, realistic characters. I can certainly write a character without an actor in mind (I was in book 3 of the Guinevere trilogy before I finally found a Guinevere), but when I do find that right person, there’s a special little extra “click” in my brain. It’s hard to explain.

I know not everyone works this way. And I certainly want my readers to envision the characters however they like. The people I “cast” are just the inspiration; sometimes it’s the way they look or a certain quality to their acting that I’ve seen that helps me unlock or convey a quality of a character. That they helped me in no way means that they are the only person who could ever play the role. But I also don’t think I can be cagey about who inspires the characters. Heck, I have whole Pinterest boards dedicated to my characters, so it’s not something I try to hide.

My point is that I don’t know how well I would write without Pinterest or Pandora for inspiration. On Pinterest I have boards for books I’ve written, am writing and have yet to truly conceive beyond the most basic notion. Some are secret if they would make the topic too obvious, but most are public because I believe we draw inspiration from one another. For example, some of my favorite bits of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, were inspired by objects or quotes I found on Pinterest. Annabeth’s boyfriend, Victor, came to life thanks to a photo of a model whose identity I still don’t know.  I never know where I will find inspiration, and truly look forward to a daily trolling of the boards, just waiting for something to tug at my subconscious and say “Hey, I’m going to be important.”

As I write this, I’m listening to a station I created on Pandora while I was writing He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Because I listen to audio books in the car, I very rarely listen to the radio. That means Pandora is my way of being exposed to new music, whether it’s at home while I’m writing or at work. While I was cleaning out the freezer earlier (I lead such a glamorous life), it served up a song I’ve never heard before that is perfect for the wedding scene if when HLMHMN gets a sequel (it’s a standalone, but I have ideas for two possible sequels). Then a few minutes later, it handed me “Glitter in the Air” by Pink, which is totally perfect for Annabeth’s POV where the next book would start. Some of my favorite scenes from the first book were inspired by or complemented by music that Pandora gave me.

I really don’t know what I would do without these two resources. Obviously, I have an imagination and I use it, but getting the little nudges from the muse through electronic means is something unique to this period in history and I intend to use them to the fullest. As a reader, I know I love being able to see what an author was imagining/listening to when he or she wrote a book. Even if it doesn’t match what I envisioned, it gives me an insight to the story that I otherwise wouldn’t have. And that’s my goal in being candid about my visual and musical picks with all of you. If I someday am advised to change that, I guess I’ll do what I have to, but until then, you have an all-access pass into my creative brain, which I hope you enjoy and I hope it makes you all the more excited for the day the books are released.

What do you think about authors sharing their inspirations online? Do you want to know who they cast as characters or do you prefer to make your own choices? What about playlists – do you find them interesting or helpful? What else would you like to know about my books? I’m open to any suggestions you have for seeing into my world (although I can’t usually share excerpts).

Pinterest for Authors: A New Form of Creative Expression

Before Pinterest, this is how we gathered images. Photo by mboverload. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

So, I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to Pinterest. It’s like therapy for me.

The funny this is, I never understood the point of it until I approached it from a writer’s perspective. I decided that since I can’t tell you about the plot until the books get published (querying agents right now, in case you were wondering), I can at least show you a little of what’s going on in my head through some of my Pinterest boards.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much the boards would help with my writing. Many of my pins are like someone went into my head and pulled out exactly what I pictured. So when I’m working on a particularly stubborn scene, all I have to do is go pull up a pin that reminds me of it to get re-inspired all over again.

So what boards do I have? These are the ones that are book-related:

  • Characters – I want everyone to be able to picture my characters however they like, but this is a board of my dream cast. If you want to know who I’m thinking of as I write these characters, look no further. Basically, this is an electronic version of my casting book.
  • Guinevere/Isolde book inspiration – These are images that remind me in some way of this series of books. They can be models who remind me of the characters, objects I don’t want to forget, or even places that have relevance to the book, but aren’t exactly settings. If I see an image and it makes my author’s heart flutter, it goes here.
  • Inspirations for future booksThis is your sneak-peek into the other plots that are floating around in my head.
  • SettingsExactly what it sounds like, only these could be for any of the current novels or something I’m planning in the future. If it’s a locale I want to remember, I pin it to this board.
  • Writers and bookworms uniteAdmit it. We writers and readers are a strange bunch. Sometimes it’s fun to make fun of that. I also have lots of pictures of libraries and other things of interest to writers and readers.
  • Books worth readingA collection of books I’ve liked. I haven’t spent as much time with this board as I’d like.
  • Traditional Arthurian artArt from the masters of yore that depicts scenes from or inspired by Arthurian legend.
  • Ideal places to write – I just started this board last night. A few pins have struck me as places that would provide ample inspiration for any writer, so I’m collecting them here.

I’ve seen other authors (and fans) do page-by-page walk-throughs of their books on Pinterest, which is a really neat way to immerse yourself in the books. The possibilities are endless. If you have suggestions for other things, please let me know.

And because there’s more to my life than just writing (well, not during NaNoWriMo!) I also have boards that reflect my other interests, like travel, religion/mythology, art, tattoos, nature, castles, home design, food, jokes, and yes, even wedding stuff (I think every woman is required to have one of those boards – some sort of universal rule).

The thing that makes Pinterest fun is following others who share your passions. That way, when Pinterest shows you what others have pinned, you’ll be seeing things you like and can relate to. It’s social media with all the fun and none of the pressure. Plus, who doesn’t like to look at pretty pictures?

I’ve been toying with the idea of featuring a Pin of the Week on this blog, but I’m afraid that may violate copyright law, so I haven’t acted on it. (Some people say that using Pinterest at all is a violation of copyright law, but that’s not my area of expertise, so I have no comment.)

If you’re interested in following me, you can click the little red “P” in the upper right corner of this site or visit my Pinterest profile. If you have a profile and would like me to follow you, please leave the URL in the comments.

Do you use Pinterest? Why or why not? How have you seen it effectively used by other writers? What would you like to see on my boards that you don’t see now? Did you see any pin that makes you want to read the Guinevere books?