Alien Worlds & Traveling Abroad

Art by Michael Lam 2013
First, the big news of course is that Blood Siren 2nd Edition is now available in both eBook (Kindle) and Print! Get the eBook here, and the print version here or here!

—Tying into that, a lot of the things I hear after someone reads something I wrote is "how did you come up with that?" or "how did you build the world for the story?"

I'd like to think of myself as a creative person, but of course, creativity does not come out of a void. One of the things I find that helps is relying on google images for inspiration. Try googling something like "weirdest animals" or "strangest fish" and you'll be presented with a wealth of alien-looking animals and landscapes to blend with your imagination. I have a degree in biology, but though that serves as a basis for already knowing some of the weird stuff out there, with the internet one is hardly at a disadvantage when it comes to access to things of this nature.

Another thing to do for inspiration, if one can, is travel. In the USA we have a wealth of different cultures and environments (deserts, rainforest—yes, there are both tropical and temperate rain-forests in the USA and its territories) to travel to for inspiration without leaving the country. If one can, though, I've found travel abroad to be the best for this (you guys in Europe and Asia are pretty lucky being so close to other cultures and environments).

Kumamoto Castle
Wikimedia Commons- by 663Highland
In 1999 I landed in Japan and my world changed forever. It was the first time I'd been in an environment where I didn't speak the language and couldn't read. The construction was different from where I'd grown up, and all of this contributed to my feeling like I was really on another planet. Although I did learn to speak the language, and read a little, that feeling of being in an alien world has stayed with me to this day—and I love it.

CS Friedman traveled to an active volcano before writing the third novel in her Coldfire trilogy, and I'm sure the experience lent to the powerful descriptions in that book. When writing, there is no better way to imagine what your hero or heroine might be experiencing on an alien world than to travel to one yourself. I recently traveled to the Carribean for the first time, and already I've got a few ideas both for stories, and how to make some things I've already thought of better.

If it's true that we can't imagine anything that we haven't either experienced in some way or that isn't a mishmash of things we've experienced, then having as many experiences as possible can only improve our creativity and connection to the stories we read and write.


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