I was asked yesterday what inspires me to write and my immediate answer was ‘Everything.’
Ideas come from all angles all day. I have always been a wonderer. I wonder about lots of things. Place names, in particular, fascinate me. I wonder how those places came to be named as they are. As a child this wondering was the cause of my being ejected from the classroom on a regular basis for asking too many questions. Who was Weller and what did he do to get a hill named after him? (Suburb of Brisbane – Wellers Hill)
Luckily for me, the principal of the school was a very special man. He was about nine feet tall – six feet of which were legs – and always carried a bamboo cane. Eeek! He had a habit of prowling the corridors and verandahs in search of miscreants. He would make his extremely tall and scary way toward the small red-haired girl standing by the classroom door, bend so that we were face to face and say, ‘Not again, Coppertop. What did you say this time?’
I would perform the required head bob and tell him my question. He would then take me to the school library, point out the section in which I would find the answer to my question and leave me to it. ‘Come see me when you have the answer.’
This man who was at once terrifying and kind made me realise that children are supposed to ask questions, that inquiring minds should be encouraged and that it is important to go forth into the world and notice things. He is also the reason I became a teacher.
But back to what inspires me.
It was then a tiny sleepy fishing village during the winter months. It came alive during the summer because of the tourists who came to sail the calm waters of the bay and visit the old Tudor castles that guard the entrance to the nearby Fal River Estuary. I haven’t been back since 1976 and I guess that it would be an entirely different place these days but my memories of it are all good. The people would tell stories of pixies (piskies) and smugglers. There was the ruin of an old lighthouse on the headland and treacherous waters to be negotiated by boats as they entered the harbour. This place fired my imagination, reminded me of all the Enid Blyton ‘Famous Five’ books I had read as a child and was the inspiration for my first story ‘Taya Bayliss – Treasure Hunter’.
My home and family inspire me. This is especially true of my dogs, Trudy, seen here, and Heidi.
Their sheer joy in being alive and their enthusiasm for everything they do is infectious and so funny. I really enjoy writing about their adventures and misdemeanours. Those of you who read The Big Blonde Dog blog (www.thebigblondedog.blogspot.com) will be familiar with these stories. Trudy provided the inspiration for Minette in ‘Taya Bayliss – Dog Sitter’.
our apartment balcony we had a great view of the lookout shelter atop the headland. There was a man – I don’t think the photo is sharp enough for you to see him – who would stand there looking out to sea. It did not matter at what time of the day or night I looked, he would be there. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing over there but it really bugged me. I spent the entire vacation coming up with scenarios, mostly sinister I must admit, for his presence there. So when I was working on the most recent Taya Bayliss book, Code Breaker, there just had to be a man at a lookout.
Inspiration is all around us. All we need to do is allow the child within to wonder and ask questions.