I’ve been asked where I get inspiration for the locations and characters in my stories. The truth is that a lot of what I write has a small bit of personal history buried somewhere deep inside. Like a grain of sand in an oyster, these experiences are built up with layers and layers of creativity until what you end up with is a pearl of fiction. Drawing from events in my own life is one of the ways I am able to paint a very realistic picture of the world of Gabriel Wolfe and the people around him.
Sometimes even the most irritating situations can be wonderful fodder for stories. For example, a couple of years ago while I was working in Burbank, a friend called me up and invited me to go with her to a “paranormal art” opening at a restaurant. She was well over an hour late. While I waited, nursing a glass of cheap box wine and a watching the current of people coming and going, I came up with a scene for Demonology: Book of Gabriel, where Gabriel meets up with a strange young woman at a very unusual art opening.
As I wandered around the restaurant, looking at some of the worst art and photography I have ever laid eyes on, the artist walked up to me. He was dressed like some kind of Goth Andy Warhol clone, minus the charisma and style. Before he had a chance to ask me what I thought of the art, I challenged him to tell me how he got his paranormal images (which looked like dust, insects or odd reflections rather than anything preternatural). He went into a long drawn out explanation of how he set up his shots.
“But have you ever actually ‘seen’ a ghost?” I asked. “Or do you just catch them on film?”
“Oh I never see them,” he replied, with an air of authority. “Nobody ever really sees ghosts. That would land you in the Looney Bin.” He made little spiral gestures around his ears and giggled.
I sighed and politely excused myself. As soon as I got to a table, I pulled out a small notebook I keep for such emergencies and wrote down the entire experience. Except for a few edits to maintain the pace and to accommodate the characters involved, the conversation that appears in the book is almost verbatim.
I’ve spent a lot of time working in or around Hollywood and around the film industry. It exposed me to a wealth of people ranging from actors to paranormal investigators. I’ve taken personality traits from many of the people I’ve come in contact with and adopted them into my stories. Facial expressions, patterns of speech or physical appearances can do wonders for creating believable characters. As the popular saying goes, “Be careful or you’ll end up in one of my books!”