The wonderful Erin Brady is one of my favourite contemporary romance authors. I had the pleasure of recently reading her latest book, “One Last Blind Date”, and I was delighted when Erin was kind enough to share her thoughts on inspiration.
Like many authors, it’s been my lifelong dream to write. I’m pretty sure it started in the womb for me. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I still have my childhood diary and, although I wasn’t exactly Jane Austen, my ten year old self loved to weave stories. Several decades later, and I still do! My journey to write and publish my first book has been a long one, but it’s been so well worth the bumps, the turns and the detours along the road. I think if I had to relive a day in my life, like Bill Murray’s character does in Groundhog’s Day, it would be the day my first book was published. That was a great day and a realization of my dream as an author. I still pinch myself, from time to time, to make sure I’m not dreaming. I still have the black and blue marks on my arm to prove it!
My writing style varies, depending on the day and the story. Sometimes, I map out an entire storyline before putting a single word on paper. I go through several drafts of a story and by the time I’ve completed a book, I know the characters so well that they’ve become like family to me. Other times though, an idea will come to me out of the blue. When it does, I immediately run to my computer and type out the dialogue I have in my head, and then work backwards from there. I also try to keep a journal with me at all times so I’m able to jot down thoughts as they come to me. I’m a people watcher so story lines sometimes presents itself from situations I observe. That is how I came up with the premise of my book, The Shopping Swap. It was while I was out doing some Christmas shopping.
Then there are the occasions (more often than I care to admit) when I forget my journal and I find myself jotting down ideas on Post-it notes or any scraps of paper I can find in my bag as I sit on the sidelines during a soccer game or as I wait on line at the supermarket. I’m usually scribbling my thoughts on the back of my dry cleaning receipts. You see, I have young children at home so my writing takes place any time I have a few minutes or an hour to spare. It’s usually in-between all of their activities. Then when I get home, I find myself pulling out all of those pesky little notes and trying to put them in order! It would be nice if I could read my own handwriting and decipher them. Sometimes, they are like hieroglyphs.
In all of my books, I find inspiration in the classic romantic comedies that I grew up watching, such as It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Because of that movie, I discovered that it’s sexy to be funny. To me, there is nothing more attractive than a man with a sense of humor. I also think that Lucy O’Ball is a comic genius and I find her awe inspiring. I still belly laugh at every rerun of I Love Lucy. I’d like to think that a small part of her spirit lives in all of my female characters.
I also find a great deal of inspiration for my books from my closest girlfriends. I have always said that they provide me with many of the comedic moments in my stories, as well as, in my life. They are my characters-strong women who have a wonderful sense of themselves and aren’t afraid to laugh at their embarrassing moments. And we have laughed a lot, many times over a bottle of wine (or several!)
To be a good writer, they say you have to be a good reader first and find inspiration in stories that move you. I’ve been a lifelong lover of books and I admit to devouring a few of them a month (and that’s during a slow month). And, when I started writing my own books, I found tons of inspiration in published authors that weaved stories I felt connected to because they wrote about characters who were just like me, only thinner, smarter and living in a great one bedroom apartment in the city, one that I could never afford in my lifetime. I came to know and love such authors as Sophie Kinsella, Emily Griffin and Jane Green, just to name a few, because I found my laugh in between the pages of their novels.
Now that I’ve been an Indie writer for over a year, I have come to know another group of exceptionally talented writers who have taken their dreams of being published and made it happen on their own. These are people I have come to admire as my colleagues and who understand the struggles (the highs and lows) of being a self-published author. They are a great support system too (think AA but in this group, we do drink!), forwarding over resources and information, sharing and celebrating in your successes and talking you through (and off the ledge sometimes) the inevitable hiccups happening along the way. And, more importantly, I have myself become a fan of their writing. They make me see that it can be done. You can write a good story and, eventually, someone will read it and like it.
So if you love to write and it’s been your life-long dream to publish a novel, all I can say is follow your dreams and put that pen to paper. Because when you do that, the results can be magical.