Inspirations, influences and six ominous words
I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while, and by chance during that time I’ve come across a few articles and blogs about what inspires other writers to write.
I’ve studied them avidly (in between string at my computer screen and procrastinating, you do see) and there seem to be a few recurring factors: travel, music, family, and just to be awkward, I’m gonna throw in one of my own…FOOD!
I’m going to talk about food last because I have a feeling once I get started on that I’ll never shut up, and I’m going to nix travel because, to be honest, I never venture far from my home on the northern fringe of London to have anything interesting to say. I’d love to visit an exotic country, soak it all in, and come home and write a steamy, edgy novel inspired by the sandy beaches and sultry seas. But it ain’t never gonna happen.
Instead, I’d like to witter about those odd flashes of genius that come to us in the strangest of places. You know, those weird moments when a whole book is inspired by a single sentence. My upcoming novel with Dreamspinner Press is a good example of this. I was in the shower one day when six ominous words popped into my steam clouded brain: he rarely let me fuck him. I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head for days, and a few months later, Slide was complete. Off the top of my head, I can’t even remember if the phrase made it into the finished book, but those words still haunt me.
Music.Now this is a doubled edged sword for me. Without it, I very much doubt I’d ever finish a book, but on the flip side, I can’t write a word if I actually have it playing. At least, not music with lyrics. Classical music, film soundtracks in particular, work much better for me. Recently, I’ve found myself tapping out a contemporary London based novel with the Gladiator score roaring in my ears. Weird, but hey, I never said I was normal.
I also find that it helps to kinda fine tune my playlist to the general tone of whatever I’m writing. The Roads series is based in Chicago, and the main protagonists are pretty young, cool and edgy. Ash is a tattooist and an artist, and Pete, his wonderful, stubbly paramedic lover, is covered in his ink. When I was writing them, I listened to a lot of urban music…dark drum and bass, and dubstep. Being a Brit chick, most of it was London based, but it helped. Or, at the very least, let me think I was cool for a while.
At the beginning of the year I wrote a novel that was far more earthy. In Only Love, a wounded veteran is paired with a vegetarian carpenter. The book was mainly set at a cabin by a lake in Oregon. For this book I listened to a lot of acoustic guitar music. Jose Gonzales and Ben Howard. Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons. I’m such a cliché.
Family:Totally. Just not my own, and I think that’s because, like everyone with a relatively stable background, I consider my family to be pretty dull and mundane. Instead, I tend to look to others for inspiration. I have a wonderful gal pal of Irish origin who was my inspiration for Pete’s mother Maggie in the Roads series. Maggie is Italian, warm and completely crazy. Just like my friend, I couldn’t just make her up.
Food, glorious FOOD! Is there a better inspiration? For me? Probably not. My life revolves around food, at home and out at work. I’ve worked in restaurants and kitchens my whole life and food plays a central role to my family life. I’m a pretty lousy housewife, and a mediocre mother, but I do at least feed my brood good, home cooked food and rarely a meal goes by when I’m not plotting a way to combine stuffing my face with my addiction to a good meaty romance.
It has been almost too easy to weave this into my work. In the Roadsseries, Pete doesn’t cook at all, and Ash only rarely, but they bond over a shared love of real Chicago deep dish, and their relationship with Pete’s mother revolves around her hearty, soulful peasant food. In Only Love, my wounded war vet Jed is newly diagnosed with a chronic stomach disorder on top of his recovery from some horrific injuries. Enter Max, his hippy, vegetarian roommate who, without even knowing it, organically cooks his way into Jed’s heart. Even my porn star boys in Bullet, my upcoming Loose ID novella, bond over some homemade Mexican food.
It gets everywhere, you see. I just can’t help myself, and my current project is my most indulgent yet. Gypsy Rain began life as a sweet little tale of a Cornish fudge maker and his mysterious gypsy lover, but the sequel has since moved to a gritty, volatile London kitchen. I’m having a whale of a time with this book, embracing both my chef roots and my inner angst whore. Life is good 🙂
So yeah, that’s my take on some of the most common inspirations, but of course, the greatest inspiration you can have is yourself…your own emotions and experiences, and while I’ve certainly never been a shy Texan tattoo artist, or an enigmatic brooding war vet, I still put a lot of myself into each and every character, and I don’t think that will ever change.
About Garrett Leigh
Hmm, where to start? Garrett lives in a small commuter town just north of London with her husband, two kids, a dog with half a brain, and a cat with a chip on her shoulder. She’s 29, and now she’s reached that milestone, she intends to stay there for the foreseeable future.
Garrett has been writing just about her whole life, but it’s been about three years since she decided to take it seriously. It got to the stage where she had to give the men in her head a voice, or have herself committed.
Angst. She can’t write a word without it. She’s tried, she really has, but her protagonists will always, always,be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
Garrett is a contracted author at Dreamspinner Press, Loose ID and Extasy books. She also self publishes from time to time at Black Jazz Press.
Garrett is a freelance cover artist at Dreamspinner Press and Loose ID, and she does her very best to produce all her own cover art. The covers you will see below are all hers. She goes indie style as well for those who self-publish, just drop her a line at email@example.com
For book enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cornish fudge maker Seb Wright is anticipating and dreading the upcoming tourist season with equal measure. The cash injection is more than welcome, the long hours in the sticky, vanilla scented kitchen less so.
A few days into the first tentative sparks of summer a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Vagrant Dex is a new face in town…a beautiful, sullen enigma, and yet with each busy day that passes, Seb finds himself becoming more and more attracted to the mysterious, young man.
A young man who seems destined to become the heartbeat of a summer he’ll never forget.
He was on his third trip between the cottage and the shop when the heavens opened. Briefly, he couldn’t believe his rotten luck, until he spotted Dex shuffling up the street, once again soaked to the skin.
For a moment, he stared. The bruises on Dex’s face had faded to a dull shade of greenish yellow, and from a distance, they could hardly be seen.The image of him huddled in the doorway of the beachwear shop flashed into his mind, and he found himself suddenly, irrationally, angry.
Were they really still there? Really still in a place where Dex was hiding from a summer storm with nowhere to go? Still in a place where he went home to his comfortable bed every night with no clue where Dex laid his head?
Something inside him snapped. He propped the heavy cooling slab he carried against a dry stone wall, pulled his hood up, and started down the road. Paying the rain no heed, Dex was walking with his eyes down, so he didn’t notice Seb until he was practically on top of him.
“Come home with me.”
Dex raised his head, blinking in surprise. “What?”
“Come home with me. You can’t sleep out in this.”
The defiance in his eyes broke Seb’s heart. Dex had never admitted that he had no place to call home, and it seemed he never would. “Says me,” he said shortly. “I’m working at home tonight, and you’re coming with me.”
Dex stared at him, his face inscrutable, and the silence stretched on and on, punctuated only by a brutal clap of thunder. “What do you want from me?”
Seb stepped closer and lightly touched the fading marks on Dex’s face. “I want you to be safe and dry, even if it’s only for one night. I can’t… fuck. I can’t leave you out here. Please don’t make me.”
Slide is the first of the four part Roads series being released by Dreamspinner Press October 14th 2013. On the same day its accompanying free short story, Marked, will be released too. They will be followed by Rare and Freed early spring 2014.
Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…
Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.
Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.
Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.
More than Life
More than Life is a novella set in Kosovo, coming out with Extasy Books sometime, the details are still pretty vague, but here’s the working blurb.
An extraordinary bond forged in war, shattered by death and saved by love.
Set in the Kosovan war, Mikail a young ethnic Albanian catholic, fights in the underground resistance, smuggling intelligence and precious cargo out of war torn Pristina. Isa, an enigmatic CIA operative becomes an unlikely ally, and when a secret mission brings them together, heat, passion and a love they’ve never known consumes them. They forge a deep bond, but the war around them continues to rage, and as Serbian forces close in on Pristina, Isa makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his young lover.
Four years later, Mik lives in the shadow of the Albanian mountains, trying to rebuild his life with what remains of his family. His grief for Isa weighs heavily on his young shoulders until one day a lone man appears in the forest. Is the broken stranger the love Mik believed was gone forever, or is he just a dream?
Part of the Blue Boy Studio series, Bulletwill be released by Loose ID sometime this year. The details are still vague, but here is the working blurb.
Levi Ramone entered the gay porn market for one reason, and one reason only–he needed the cash to pay his momma’s spiraling gambling debts.
Seven years later, he’s a veteran with a reputation as one of Blue Boy Studio’s most ruthless tops, and when his boss suggests it’s time for a change, he finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun.
Figuratively speaking, at least.
Enter Sonny Valentine, a go-go dancer at Blue’s sister club, Silver’s. Levi has secretly admired Sonny’s beauty for years, but there’s one problem–he can’t stand Sonny and the feeling is entirely mutual. When Levi learns Sonny is to play the third part in a scene he considers his worst nightmare, he figures things can’t get any worse.
But when preparations for the scene from hell collide with tragic events in his personal life, he finds his fast growing, red hot attraction to Sonny the one thing left between him and a bullet.