Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where does Inspiration come from?




I always find it interesting to hear what first inspires authors to write their books. I've found that ideas come into your head at the craziest times, like when all you've got near you is a bottle of ketchup and a napkin. So I thought today, I'd talk about some of the research I've done for my novel, Mrs. MacIntyre's Ghost is Missing.

It's a ghost mystery, so I set it in one of the most famous Cemeteries in Cleveland, The Lakeview Cemetery. It was designed after European Victorian Cemeteries that were places to come for picnics. I went back to Cleveland for a visit and took some snapshots to get a feel for the place. Cleveland is such a diverse city with all the immigrants that were drawn to the steel mills in the 19th century, that it's mind boggling to think about the diversity of ghosts that would be in this cemetery. It was fun coming up with characters to reflect that diversity. For example, Signora Rossetti from the 1950's. Lakeview Cemetery is right next to Cleveland's Little Italy Neighborhood, where there are more than a few rumors of past mafia activity.
And then there was Chester, the African American quarry worker from the 1920's. Cleveland has more than a few park dubbed with the name Quarry, specifically because they were built on or near quarries.

Here are some of the snapshots I took for research. It's amazing how many interesting carvings are just in this one cemetery, and I didn't even see all of it.
I couldn't figured out why this stone lion was hanging out next to a grave, but it reminded me a little of bit of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

A lot of the crypt doors are oxidized like this. I think they were originally copper if I remember correctly. There are also a lot of Egyptian carvings hanging out like lotus blossoms and scarab beetles. Prudence, the 1940's roller skating pal of Iris Griffin, the main character was placed in a crypt like this.

In Mrs. MacIntyre's Ghost is Missing, there are angels that are just spirits from human carvings of angels. I saw some pretty awesome angels for inspiration. This one in particular was stellar.
This picture inspired one of the beginning chapters where Iris and Prudence are investigating a broken gravesite. If you look closely on gravestones, there are symbols like ivy, lilies, and broken columns. They all tell different stories about the lives of the people buried there. It's pretty interesting stuff. The Association for Gravestone Studies has a List of Common Symbols. So it's like they say, back to writing to put all this research I've done to good use.

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