I have always pulled inspiration from the things that surround me, people, events, and sometimes it seems nothing at all. Many times with my picture books, the title comes to me first, and the story is the byproduct. Sometimes a couple of lines from a story will pop in my head, and the rest of the story is constructed around these lines.
Novel writing is different. Usually the outlines of an idea come to me and I have to brainstorm to get a clear picture of the story I want to tell. This process is more evident with the vampire novel I am writing. It took me years to plot the story. Actually, I'm still working on the plot even as I write it.
But sometimes, there are those events or places in my childhood that provide such warm memories, that I want to relive them through my writing.
Monta so eloquently described a place like this in her post.
But for me, that place was Camp Mathieu which my Middle Grade novel Camp Lagoon is based on. When I was a kid starting at age 7, I went away to camp every year for 10 summers. Since Camp Mathieu was owned by the Off The Street Club, a boys and girls club in Chicago, it serves inner city youth who normally wouldn't get the opportunity to go away to camp. Although I never attended the club, ( I lived on the other side of town) I did get to experience Camp Mathieu through my church's coordination with the facility. For one entire week, my brothers and I were whisked away to camp for a week of hiking, swimming, horse back riding, and a host of other activities.
But the highlight of the week, was always Thursday nights. On this night, campers were gathered around the camp fire and told the story of Goon. A half human, half monster like creature with a child-like mind and super human strength, who had possibly killed a camper or two as revenge for a prank pulled on him years ago. Then, we were marched through the woods half scared out of our minds looking for signs of Goon. After of course, they showed us the half foot print left in the road leading up to the camp, and the broken chain at the camps entrance.
It was always a wild time. Even when we were older and no longer believed in Goon, it was exciting to walk through the woods pretending to be brave while surrounded by a chorus of screaming children.
My MG novel Camp Lagoon, which I hope will be a bit funny and a bit scary, is based on the experiences my brothers and I had over the years at Camp Mathieu. The main character Tyler is a combination of me and my brothers. Mostly them, except the nerdy part of his personality, which is me. Although this is irrelevant to the topic of writing inspirations, writing this novel has prompted me to start donating to The Off The Street Club in hopes of sending someone to Camp Mathieu this summer.
I should say, a lot of my ideas come from me having children. I haven't based one particular character around my boys, but they do help me keep in touch with what children like and how they think. They remind me of what it was like when I was a child, which helps me try to relate to other children while I'm writing, so in essence they are probably my greatest source of inspiration.