Monday, March 25, 2013

The Ideas That Inspired Famous Books...

This week as a followup to the last post, I've dug up some inspiration. Since I was last talking about job experiences authors have had, this week I've found what inspired authors to write the books they did. You can call me a nerd if you like, but I think it's cool how a book can develop from a small observation of the world.

P.S. If you happen to be worried about where I've gotten all this information from, have no fear. (And really you should be worried, you can't believe everything you read on the internet! (My library side applauds you.) Don't panic, beyond studious use of a towel while writing this article, I only used three sources for my information: 1. the author's website. 2. The author's publisher website 3. in cases where neither present (i.e. Louisa May Alcott, who lived before computers)

E.B White- White lived on a farm in Maine and reputedly spent a lot of time in the barn. One night, he fell asleep on a railway car during the night and had a dream about "a tiny boy who acted rather like a mouse."And that was the beginning of Stuart Little.

Jack Gantos- Gantos apparently spent a bit of time eavesdropping around the teacher's lounge when he was younger. He attributes inspiration for pieces of his books from the stories he overheard while eavesdropping.

Katherine Erskine- Erskine lived briefly in South Africa, this is where she got her inspiration for Ibhubesi: The Lion.

Frances Hodgson Burnett- Burnett lived in poverty after her father's death. Her writing helped her briefly escape the horrors of the Manchester slums around her. I'm drawing a bit of a connection here, but I imagine living in poverty inspired the story of The Little Princess

Sharon Creech- For the book Absolutely Normal Chaos, Creech was inspired by her large family in real life. The book is even set in her home town, South Euclid, Ohio.

J.K. Rowling- Ever wonder where Harry Potter started? Rowling was on a long train journey from London to Manchester, when she had an idea of a young boy who had not yet learned that he was a wizard. Unfortunately, she didn't have a pen or paper with her on the train, so it is lucky for readers everywhere that she has a good memory. As further inspiration, Rowling lost her mother in 1990. She had a close relationship with her mother, and this is believed to be her inspiration for making a mother's love such a central idea to the plot of Harry Potter.

Rick Riordan- Riordan spent three years as a Music Director at a summer camp called Camp Capers. His time there first gave him the idea for Camp Blood.

What interesting places has your inspiration come from?


  1. Wonderful stuff. Goes to show the inspiration can come from anywhere!

    1. A good point! Maybe it also shows that some of the worst things we experience in life can eventually become a story.

  2. Those are awesome inspiring stories. Love hearing how they came up with the ideas.

  3. These are great stories to share with my students--thanks for this post! It's especially nice for kids to know that their not-so-great life moments can lead to inspiration for future stories.