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How I Write: Finding Inspiration

Our sources of inspiration are often linked to the reasons why we write. I enjoy writing mysteries because I am a very curious person. If a mystery hasn’t been solved in real life, I can’t stop asking myself questions about it, and often those questions turn into a story.

For example, when I was seventeen, I visited Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Germany. While I was there, I became fascinated by the life story of its former owner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He was well known for being eccentric and a lavish spender, but he was also kind to the peasants in his kingdom. Eventually, he was declared clinically insane by his enemies (even though there was no evidence to support this) and forcibly removed from power. The following day, he and his doctor were found dead in a lake. To this day, nobody knows what happened or why.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the mystery. As I came up with different ideas about what might have happened, I started to develop a story of my own. I linked it to a what-if I had been thinking about while watching the film Bridge to Terabithia: what if the main character’s sister had fallen into the stream instead of his best friend? How would their lives have been different? The two mysteries combined in interesting ways, and suddenly I had the idea for a whole book.

Turning inspiration into a story is a strange process. I always find it helpful to think of Stephen King’s belief that ‘Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground…Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered, pre-existing world.’ Or, as Michelangelo said, ‘Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.’ The solutions to those mysteries are out there somewhere – as writers, we just need to find them.