Someone Else’s Words – Dr Edwin Land on Creativity

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“How the real world shapes fiction and vice versa” by Heidi Angell

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Almost every author in every interview where the question was asked “where do you find inspiration” invariably says something along these lines, “From real life/ the world around me/ my dreams (which we all know are the brain’s way of processing out things that happened during the day)/ the news/ entertainment sparks an idea..”
We all know that even the most fantastical science fiction world building comes from our world, or the author’s effort to make it as completely different from our world as possible.  The idea that the real world shapes fiction is pretty much a given. But what about when fiction shapes the real world? What if that lense that authors take to adapt new stories is also there to shape how we look at the real world. A big example is Disney is using their platform to normalize villains by retelling several of the stories from the perspective of the villains. This helps the rest of the world break out of the hero vs villain mentality and shift to an “Every villain is the hero in their own story” mentality. But it also helps society break out of the duality of good vs evil. The important question is whether this shift is a reflection of the idea in psychology that there are no evil people, only people who’s thought processes have been damaged? And if it is, will it help to normalize the idea that those people can change those processes if they want to and go from being a victim to being a survivor. From being a reactive person who hurts others to being a contemplative person who builds positive relationships. Scott H. Young makes a great point that is understood in a lot of behavioral therapy/ life coach/ Success Gurus teachings and a key piece to this idea. “Someone once told me that, “the greatest truths are in fiction.” The point was meant to be profound, contrasting the factual nature of nonfiction books, to the deeper truths underlying fiction. It’s hard to understand why this statement feels true. Certainly any deep philosophical argument made in a work of fiction has also been argued explicitly in a non-fiction work. How then, expressing the same truth, could one be “greater” than the other? I suspect the reason is that story is our native language, and in hearing a philosophical argument with evidence and rhetoric, we are merely listening to a translation from the way we understand the world.” And it is in this key element that authors can and do shape the world around us with our stories. Often subconsciously, but we do it all the same. A perfect example, when I was writing The Hunters, the first book in The Hunters Saga, I was telling a story about a kid who’s town was infested with vampires and who ends up being saved by Fury and Havoc. Fury and Havoc were characters that have been playing in my mind for seemingly forever. I was Fury in my childhood fantasies after watching films like The Lost Boys or John Carpenter’s vampires. For as long as I could remember, Fury and Havoc were like buddy cops, there wasn’t a hierarchy, they were a team. But than a reviewer said something that shocked me. “Turns gender roles on their head and I love it!”  I didn’t know what the reviewer meant, so I took it to my brother. He was like, “Uh, yeah, most of the time the woman is the one who’s lost without the man. But in this Havoc is lost without Fury. She’s definitely in charge.” I had based Fury and Havoc’s interactions and behavior on my husband and me. I never considered my husband to be subservient to me, but he and I both get a little bit lost without the other’s input on important things. We are so used to making decisions together that we often can predict what the other will say. But when we’re in a situation where we know that what the one will say goes completely against what we think we want/ need then we’re a little bit stuck on what to do. That was where I was writing Havoc from in the beginning. But Fury is a rush in bull headed leader and Havoc does follow her unless he disagrees. You get to see that and how well she doesn’t handle it in The Hunted. That experience has made me much more conscious of the world views I am injecting into stories. Because I want to live in a world where I am seen to be as valuable as my husband, but not in a world that naively thinks that I’ve flipped gender roles on their head and my husband is subservient to me. I continue this theme in The Survivalist Bible. The first in this serialized apocalyptic story just released this month in The Power of Words anthology. Survivalist Bible: Genesis introduces us to a world where a “civilized” man. One that tends to be the “beta male” that those who object to the sissification of males harp against. Gabe is, in my mind a bit of a cad, a typical metrosexual 20 something year old, playing the field, enjoying his single stardom as a romance author. Then the world falls apart and this man that should never be able to survive on a camping trip, let alone the apocalypse, is able to survive because of a female writer who focuses on dystopian and doomsday writing and is really big on practicing what she does in her books. But this isn’t just a story about a dominant woman saving the man. This is about a mother doing anything to get back to her children, and how a male who is often snubbed in extreme conservative views helps her keep from losing her humanity in her quest. It is a story of how survival of the fittest might not be the best thing if our world gets thrown into the dark ages and how the thing that helped us to grow and advance as rapidly as we have (community and community guidelines/ rules/ laws) would be the thing to save us in an apocalypse. Not brute strength. Will everyone get that from The Survivalist Bible? Probably not. I am already getting kick back from some people who don’t really like Gabe and can’t believe he will survive. It’s a hard concept considering almost all of the apocalyptic stories in the last 30 years all display the anarchists winning, the communities collapsing in on themselves and tearing themselves apart. But hopefully this will be the turning point of apocalyptic stories where we realize that kill first should not be the path we should take. That survival of the fittest leaves most of the world dead. Want to follow more of The Survivalist Bible Series? Survivalist Bible: Exodus releases to my Patreon followers on November 1st, and will be available to the public through Amazon on November 30th. Survivalist Bible: Levi will be available to my Patreon followers on December 1st  and the public December 31st. Each month a new serial will release and anyone in my patreon group for $2 or more will get a thank you in the next installment. So be sure to join the fun. How have you seen fiction shape the real world? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to come back tomorrow for another great post in the 31 Days of Halloween.

From The Author

Heidi Angell-Head Shot
Heidi Angell is the author of The Hunters Saga, The Clear Angel Chronicles, The Hell School Series and Survivalist Bible series releasing Fall 2018. She also created Royal Prince Vince, Creative Exercises to Inspire, and A Penslinger’s Ponderings. When she is not reading and writing, she can be found doing her duties as a board member at OWS Ink LLC publishing house, or spending quality time with her family.

Where To Find Heidi Angell

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The Hunters-Cover
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Author Spotlight – Katherine Gilbert

Introducing Katherine Gilbert

31 Days Of Halloween - Katherine Gilbert - Author Spotlight

Katherine Gilbert was born at house number 1313 and then transplanted to a crumbling antebellum ruin so gothic that The Munsters would have run from it. She has since gained several ridiculously-impractical degrees in English and Religious and Women’s Studies. She now teaches at a South Carolina community college, where all her students think, correctly, that she is very, very strange, indeed.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

The decaying nineteenth-century mansion in South Carolina I mention in my bio was so creepy many people simply refused to enter it. They were the smart ones. About ten years after I finally managed to escape it, I was told by a family friend that it had burned down. He was quite surprised, when I laughed in hysterical relief. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by the gothic and paranormal, although I demand large doses of humor to make life worthwhile.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Lydia, the main character in Protecting the Dead, has spent the first 18 years of her life being raised by parents who intended from the start to sacrifice her to a demon, so she’s got some definite social anxiety disorder issues she’s having trouble overcoming. She’s decided the way to be happy is to just be the most normal person possible and ignore anything weird or strange. Since she ends up getting a job at a supernatural apartment complex filled with werewolves, cat people, ghosts, vampires, and many other creatures of the night, this isn’t easy for her. Her attraction to her angelic boss doesn’t help matters, either. It’s really a character’s journey from an uncertain past to a future where she starts to realize that embracing weirdness can lead to happiness.

Who is your intended readership?

Hoo boy–where to start? First off, I don’t do dark or gritty. To my mind, life has too much of both those qualities as it is. There are also too many unpleasant people out there in the real world either causing or enjoying the suffering of others. I’ve never wanted to spend my free or dream time with them, so (while this type may show up as a villain) they will never be my protagonists. I actually like a character I can, well, like. In other words, if you root for Sauron over Frodo or Aragorn, I’m not the writer for you.

Two of my greatest loves, as well, are humor and the weird or paranormal, so that kind of tells you something about what you should be expecting (well, if you toss in that there are romances, too). My writing is full of strange, funny, quirky characters in weird, paranormal situations.

Another aspect of my writing is kind of a quirky spirituality. Nothing in my novels will resemble any religion you ever heard of. There are both angels and demons in Protecting the Dead, but they probably won’t fit most preconceived religious notions. Still, I’d rather create worlds where the protagonists and their friends are working toward seeing good happen in the world and helping out all those around them.

It was only after my novel was published that I came to realize how much it doesn’t seem to fit most people’s expectations. If you approach it solely as a romance, the protagonist’s journey is really only partly about her relationship, so this may throw you off. If you approach it solely as urban fantasy, it will seem weirdly humorous and light. If you expect it to be a typical (i.e. rigidly codified Christianity) inspirational, your brain will probably explode. My sister attempted to define it once as an inspirational comic paranormal urban gothic romance. I guess I’d just say it the way I do in my newsletter. My writing is for those times you want humor, romance, and the paranormal–and you aren’t willing to settle for just one.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I actually started out as a fan fiction writer for a show I was obsessed with. At first, the stories all filled in the blanks left by the episodes, but, once the show ended a few years later, I branched out into alternate universe stories. I realized through these that I was actually able to create my own plot and characters. In fact, the characters always know where they’re going, even when I haven’t a clue. I just need to get the time to put my fingers on the keyboard and let them tell me what they want written about them.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

There are a lot of favorite authors for me, but Terry Pratchett probably comes out on top. He mixes humor, fantasy, the supernatural, and real-world truths and concerns with absolutely seamless brilliance. I’ve reread some of the Discworld novels so many times I’ve nearly memorized them.

As to my inspirations, there are a couple. First, my sister listens to every chapter as I write and is unbelievably supportive. It’s wonderful to have someone who really gets me listening to what I’m working on. Second, a lot of my novels come from either dreams or the seed of a real-life encounter. Protecting the Dead was inspired by a run-down apartment complex my sister and I visited. When she asked about the tenant turnover, she was told, “Oh, our residents never leave.” Thus, my brain started sizzling. Third, though, are just the characters themselves. When I finally published this first novel (after years of trying), a friend asked me why I never gave up. I told her truthfully that I couldn’t betray my characters that way. They wanted their story told, so I needed to do what I could to see that that happened.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Mostly, as I said above, if this is something you really want to do and the stories are just burning in your mind, don’t give up. This is true even when: you’re halfway through writing and either realize you have no idea where this story is going or it takes off in a sudden new direction you never expected; agents and publishers are thoroughly uninterested in your work; you’re bogged down in editing which seems to be driving you close to madness; the thought of trying to “create a platform” for your published work makes you want to hold your head; nobody’s buying your book; or some of those few who review it just say some version of, “Whuh?” Trust in your characters; do the best you can for them and yourself, and, whenever possible, help out others, as you go along.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

In Protecting the Dead, there’s this little old Jewish woman who keeps popping up in Lydia’s dreams. For the longest time, I was as clueless as she was as to who this old woman was and why she kept invading my story. It was only partway through a chapter about halfway through the novel that it finally dawned on me who she was (although, to avoid spoilers, I won’t explain further).

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

My hobbies are mostly mundane (tv, movies, books). As to what I’m passionate about, I suppose spending time with my sister and friends. I love to go on small adventures somewhere beautiful or strange, whether it’s a place I’ve never seen before or one I’ve been to any number of times. Honestly, too, even if my sister and I go nowhere, just spending time laughing and talking with her is one of my greatest joys. I utterly, thoroughly scored in the cosmic sister lottery, and I always enjoy my good fortune.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I’ve got one book I’m writing and another I’m editing. For the one I’m editing, it involves magic and some demonic secrets in an antebellum mansion on the Battery in Charleston, SC. Sometimes hidden family secrets can reach out to grab you.

Protecting the Dead

Protecting the Dead-Cover

After a childhood filled with demons and her devil-worshiping parents, Lydia longs for a quiet, normal life, a safe haven somewhere blissfully dull. Being the manager at the Roanoke Apartments seems to fit that bill. But Lydia soon learns that you can’t leave the past behind so easily. She finds herself faced with unclogging drains for werewolves, conducting nightly vampire counseling sessions, and caring for two talkative cats. Then there’s the

distraction of Geoffrey, the hottest, and most angelic, boss anyone ever dreamed of. As if that isn’t enough, the demon who nearly killed her shows up to finish the job. So much for a peaceful, simple life…

Buy Now: E-Book, Paperback (Coming Soon)

Author Pages:

Amazon, Smashwords

Where to find Katherine Gilbert:

Website (Facebook)

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