What Inspires Your Creativity?

By Tasche Laine

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Have you ever wondered where your favorite authors get ideas for their books? Were they inspired by true life experiences? Did inspiration come to them in a dream? Or did they just make the whole thing up using nothing but their imaginations?

 

In the article, “How an Author’s Life Influences Literary Works,” by Angela Janovsky, “Every person has individual experiences that affect his or her personality, and an author is no different. History, gender, race, and other factors have a strong influence on (an author’s) writing.”

https://study.com/academy/lesson/how-an-authors-life-influences-literary-works.html

 

Before I wrote my latest book, CHAMELEON, I got an idea for a psychological thriller. Using the worst character traits from every guy I ever dated, and borrowing a couple from friends’ dating horror stories, I came up with the scheming, manipulative, and narcissistic psychopath, Geoffrey Jensen. 

 

We’ve all met guys like Geoffrey, to a point. But Geoffrey is that maniac who cut you off on the freeway last week—on steroids times ten! He’s every girl’s dream guy and worst nightmare rolled into one.

 

Once I had the idea for my main story, I began to flesh it out  

 

Since many of my readers shared with me that they didn’t understand some of the choices Tara made in CLOSURE, my first book, I decided to continue with that character and let her explain herself—in CHAMELEON. It turns out, Tara had more to say.

 

Even though my first book is a fictional memoir, and the character of Tara is based on me and events in my own life, I thought it would be fun to let the fictional character take over in the next book. So, I turned her life into a domestic thriller!

 

Since CHAMELEON continues where CLOSURE left off, I brought in Joe and Jalina, who are both loosely based on my ex-husband and daughter. But again, they’ve been fictionalized.

 

The only character in my latest book who is based on a real-life person is my favorite character—Dorey Dalton. In the book, she’s single and Tara’s best friend. But the real Dorey was so much more. She is the true inspiration behind CHAMELEON. She is the person who inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a published author. And she gave me the gentle nudge I needed when I didn’t think I could do it.

 

The real-life Dorey Madrid was a beloved high school English teacher of twenty-four years, devoted wife and mother to two amazing kids, and my friend. She loved to laugh, fish, travel, read, and cause mischief. 

 

She was a friend to all who knew her, and feisty until the very end. She fought valiantly for four years, remaining hopeful and optimistic with every round of chemotherapy. She touched thousands of lives, inspired many students to follow their dreams, and is missed every day by her former students, family, friends, and me.

 

Sadly, Dorey lost her battle to breast cancer last summer. I wrote her into my book because I needed a part of her to stay alive—if only in my writing. I believe writing about her, even if it was a younger fictional version of her, helped my grieving process. I only hope I captured a glimpse of her essence, honored her legacy, and made her proud. 

 

Thanks for reading some of the inspiration for CHAMELEON. If you would like to pick up a copy you can do that here. And watch for the audiobook to be released in June! 

And if you have an interest in writing a book or publishing it yourself, here are two great articles to check out! https://self-publishingschool.com/how-to-write-a-book/ and https://selfpublishing.com/self-publishing

In A World Filled With Hate We Need More Compassion

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HATE. What does this word mean to you? What connotations do you associate with it?
 
I asked my students these same questions as I wrote the word “HATE” in big block letters on the white board, after teaching them the difference between denotation and connotation.

 

It was the morning after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and injured 58 others. I needed to address the shooting with my students, as they were all talking about it and I knew we wouldn’t get any work done if I stifled their discussions. I decided to make it the morning lesson—an English lesson.

 

June 13, 2016, I was teaching at Troy High School, in Fullerton, California—2,514 miles away. It was summer school and the students before me had failed Freshman English for one reason or another and knew they had to pass my class or they wouldn’t graduate.

 

Given my audience, made up of teenagers who would rather be at the beach (or anywhere else) than my classroom, forced to take summer school, their answers were predictable. After I wrote the word, I asked for examples of words they associated with hate.

 

One student said, “Homework!” Everyone laughed.

 

Another said, “School.”

 

“Okay, good. Those are examples of things you hate. But what do you feel when you hear the word hate? Remember, a connotative word is the feeling invoked or the meaning implied by the word.”

 

And then they got it. Soon the room was bustling with energy as they shouted the words faster than I could write them. Words like:  rage, anger, bully, fight, bad, mad, ugly, violent, hurt, pain, kill, war, fear . . . I wrote their examples until there was no room left to write; the white board was full.

 

The room fell silent as they realized how powerful the word hate is; how it holds so many negative, destructive connotations. Then I challenged them to eliminate the word hate from their vocabularies, for at least the remainder of summer school. I encouraged them instead to use synonyms, such as dislike, loathe, etc. And I asked them to keep a journal, noting all the times they would usually say hate, and writing the word they chose to say instead.

 

We talked about hate crimes and what causes people to have so much hate in their hearts for other people. According to Silvia Dutchevici, LCSW, president and founder of the Critical Therapy Center, we hate because it is in our psychological makeup and family history. She adds that it is also in our cultural and political history. “We live in a war culture that promotes violence, in which competition is a way of life,” she says. “We fear connecting because it requires us to reveal something about ourselves. We are taught to hate the enemy — meaning anyone different than us — which leaves little room for vulnerability and an exploration of hate through empathic discourse and understanding. In our current society, one is more ready to fight than to resolve conflict. Peace is seldom the option,” from “The Psychology of Hate” by Allison Abrams, LCSW-R. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201703/the-psychology-hate

 

 

What Can We Do About It?

 

According to the article, Psychologist Bernard Golden says that hatred has to be learned, “We are all born with the capacity for aggression as well as compassion. Which tendencies we embrace requires mindful choice by individuals, families, communities and our culture in general. The key to overcoming hate is education: at home, in schools, and in the community.”

 

To wrap up my lesson that day, I encouraged my students to spread kindness, compassion, and love. I encouraged them to smile at each other and pay it forward.

 

In light of the most recent school shooting, in Parkland, Florida, I think that is sound advice for our whole country. Please. Be kind to each other. Have compassion. Spread love.