Creating Inspiration – Where to Start

Embarking on the task of writing a new book is always a thrill, but that thrill doesn’t start for me until I have the title, because until then, I don’t have a clue where to start.

I little while ago, I wrote about coming up with the idea for a series of books in the horror genre aimed at kids. What I came up with at that time was a title for the series – Skeleton Cove Horror – and the title for the first book – The Demon of Devilgate Drive.

All well and good, but now that book is out in the world, I need to think about the next one. Now, normally, I don’t consider the cover image until I’m at least half-way through writing the book, since I’m more likely to come up with something inspirational if I actually know what the story is about.

This time, however, I started thinking about the title in conjunction with finding an image, so the two things were swirling around in my head at the same time. I knew I wanted the background image (the town of Skeleton Cove) to be the same as that of the first book, as that would help to give the series a bit of branding, so bearing this in mind, I began exploring possible titles.

My initial thoughts were along the lines of a murderous butcher (The Butcher of Bakersfield? Sorry, Running Man), a cutthroat haridresser (The Demon Barber of Fleet Street? No, someone already grabbed that one), or a pirate. Going with the latter option, I played around with that old nugget: The Something of Something Thing.

The Treasure of Something Thing
The Curse of Something Thing
The Ghost of Something Thing

I then resorted to looking up the names of actual pirates. Now, if you’ve ever done this you’ll know there are millions of them – since the dawn of time men (and occasionally women) have been plundering and ripping it up in an ‘Arrgh Jim-lad’ sort of way all over the world. And strangely enough, most of them have pretty ordinary, boring names, like, William Walker and James Ford. However, there are others who sound more interesting:

Scandinavian lady pirate Awilda
William (Captain) Kidd
Sadie Farrell (Sadie The Goat)
Edward Teach (Blackbeard)

But it was the wonderfully named English pirate John Rackham (named Calico Jack after his penchant for wearing calico) who really caught my eye. Said to be the originator of the Jolly Roger, Rackham was also known for having two female crew members, including the infamous Anne Bonny.

Although Calico Jack’s life and exploits are fascinating, there’s no obvious link to explore in terms of horror (vengeful murder, ghostly curses, haunted treasure), leaving me no option but to do what most other writers do – make something up.

So now I’ve got the title: The Curse of Calico Jack, I needed an image to go with it and turned to my favourite stock photo provider: Dreamstime. Naturally, there were lots of pics of pirates (or blokes dressed as pirates), but one in particular stood out. With a little bit of Photoshopping, I turned a stock photo into what I was looking for and hey presto!


Now all I have to do is write the book.

24 thoughts on “Creating Inspiration – Where to Start

    • I think you have to do whatever works for you. In my case, the title is the starting point and is generally all I need. Having said that, I can write short stories without having the title first, which is odd… Thanks for your comments – much appreciated.

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  1. So, how scary is your first book in the series? Stephen King scary? Also, curious — as you are doing your own cover do you publish your own books or go through a Publisher? How many books do you plan for the series? Get going… 🙂

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    • I think scary is an individual thing – what’s scary to me might not be to someone else. Certainly, my children’s books aren’t aimed at giving anyone nightmares, and I’d definitely be racking things up a few notches if I were aiming solely at adults.

      I’m an indie author so I publish on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble etc, and yes, I do my own covers. Currently working on my 16th and 17th books – one for kids, one for adults.

      Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

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      • That’s wonderful and thanks for sharing your books, your process, and book reviews too. I’m going to read this first book in your series and also want to read the Tuscany book you had reviewed.

        I was just in Dublin and loved being in the bookstore. They have a great selection of books for adults/YA, different from our writing here in the States.

        I’ve just finished two children’s picture books and will start sending them out to publishers and see what they think.

        Congratulations on being at 16/17 books, I’m just at 1, but got to start somewhere, right!

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      • Everyone has to start somewhere, and you’ll learn far more by doing it than not, so each new book will add to your abilities and knowledge. Good luck with your first one!

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      • By the way, did I mention this to you… as you like mysteries, I have been reading an interesting book by Jason Goodwin, “The Janissary Tree,” takes place in Istanbul and the Inspector is an eunuch. It was a clever plot idea. The author has a series, I think he is on book 5.

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      • Haven’t heard of this one. I just had a look at it and am considering adding it to my ever-increasing TBR pile. Ah yes, so many books, so little time…

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      • Not sure what you mean. For me, I hear about a book and if I like it I put it on my list of books to read. I don’t discriminate, a good book is a good book no matter how it was published. :). Sounds like you focus on reading indie authors, because you are one. I understand… for me, I am open to all authors.

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      • I’ve love to be open to all authors, or to simply read whatever takes my fancy, but indies need reviews and the best way to get them is to read books by other indies in the hope they’ll read yours. However, I’ve also got books by Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Sarah Waters, Spalding Gray and Ray Bradbury sitting there patiently waiting…

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  2. Good story of the creative process. I remember doing something similar for my short story “Night Flights.” I wandered through stories and cases concerning Alien abduction in order to get a feel for common elements. Then I remember the story about Betty and Barney Hill. Of course this was one of the most famous cases, and since it happened in the early 1960’s…I created a rather “retro” 1960’s cover.

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    • Sounds great, Ernesto, and I think it’s always a good start when there are few actual ‘facts’ in the public domain, that way you can really let your imagination rip.

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