In last week’s blog post I talked about the way The Crossroads grew from the seed of an idea into a completed novel. One of the things I mentioned was waking up in the night with the three characters almost fully formed and a loose plot already outlined. Today I wanted to share more of that particular event and how it came about.
I’m a great believer in serendipity – the stars aligning and people and events appearing in your life at just the right time, even when it might seem accidental. When my publisher had suggested I write a novel set in the outback, I baulked. While I know it’s possible to write about places you’ve never been I really need to experience a place before I can (hopefully) do it justice. So I put her request on the backburner.
Not long after, a lovely librarian contacted me and invited me to do an author talk in Hughenden. After googling Hughenden and finding it was in the middle of Queensland I kindly suggested she had the wrong person. I lived in Sydney, why would she possibly want me all the way out there? Turns out she didn’t have the wrong person. She loved my books and the local Council had funds for drought relief so the library could host an author talk. Before too long a date was set for me to visit the town.
I googled Hughenden, a quaint little town surrounded by red dirt in the centre of the dinosaur trail. Then that outback novel idea came off the backburner. Research on the drought uncovered tales of depression and hardship. Fossils from pre-historic times could be found throughout central Queensland and Hughenden has its very own dinosaur statue. It also had a very old, now defunct iconic Australian pub. All these facts provided more inspiration.
The more I researched the more the brain cogs began to turn. Three characters with three separate but interwoven stories started to form. In Big Magic, a book about the creative mind, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how stories float around in the universe waiting for someone to grab them and this is exactly what happened with The Crossroads. The three characters who visited me in the middle of the night pretty much presented me with their stories and the invitation to Hughenden gave me the opportunity to research the setting and the issues and develop the plot. I’ve had middle-of-the-night inspirations before but never one as detailed as this.
Part of writing a novel is trusting in the process. It’s so easy to believe that an idea is too hard or ridiculous. It’s even easier to listen to your inner critic when she tells you ‘you’re wasting your time’. But after writing five novels I’ve realised that going with your instincts is crucial. For some people the idea that the universe provides inspiration is unfathomable. For me, especially after writing The Crossroads, it’s undeniable.
The Crossroads is now available for pre-order at Booktopia.