I’ve been asked “Where do you get your inspiration?” in reference to the depth of detail in my books. This question has been asked many times, and it has referenced the characters I’ve created, the world building aspects of the Kan Savasci Cycle, and the minutia of detail I use when describing a scene.
Where to begin when answering this? The easiest, and shortest answer is rather cliché: life. I am bound by the same five senses as all humans, with the occasional ability to see in the infrared spectrum. But, as with anyone, it may be the unique method in how I perceive the world that may have the greatest impact on my writing.
A break in routine most inspires me, largely because it forces me to pay more attention to every detail, to live in the moment. There was a driving study in Bohmte, a small German town, where they did away with all signs and driving rules. Conversely to what most people had assumed, accidents went down drastically. The reason: people were unfamiliar and confused with those lack of rules, and that uncertainty made them pay more attention and focus on driving. Similarly, the unfamiliarity of a new city, a new country, culture, language, forces me to pay more attention. It allows me to see the small details that define a region. The pieces that unify a people through culture and custom.
A brief interlude and digression to illustrate my point. I recall travelling through Mongolia, in the beginning of winter (I don’t necessarily endorse this), for it was the last train to pass through Siberia. I spent some time out there, even briefly living in a yurt (rounded tent) in -25 degree weather, before making my way through Russia. There were many interesting things I remember, but one in particular that may best illustrate inspiration/source material for my books. The one that stands out: is how the population will often shake hands if they accidently step on your foot. There were many decent sized people (thick, sturdy), and they didn’t seem to care, in Ulaan Bataar (Ulan Bator), if they ran right into. They literally could body check you to the point of nearly losing balance and not say a word. However, if a male accidently stepped on your foot, he would stop and shake your hand, and I can only assume, apologize. In fact, he could barely step on your foot, and he’d shake your hand.
Why? Well, I’m glad you asked, you intelligent and wonderful hypothetical blog-reading entity: There is a superstition that if you do not shake hands there will arise a future conflict. I also believe that the superstition may be linked to the ancient fighting method of the Mongols (a tiny bit like Judo-wrestling), in which sweeps of the leg/foot were important to taking your opponent down.
So, digression aside, I draw on travel to inspire me. I also draw on unique human interactions. I’ve been fortunate to have met many interesting and diverse people both in my travels, time spent living abroad, and through my jobs. In fact, some of my job training has allowed me to better understand people’s underlying motivations, and this allows for me to create more realistic characters, but this is a blog entry unto itself.
Last, when I am searching for a desire to write, I will listen to instrumental music, or I will hike through the hills/mountains on a snowy or foggy day. I then allow my imagination to run wild as it stitches together everything I’ve ever read, learned, and witnessed, and turns that amalgamate froth into something beautifully interesting.