With each anthology we release at Sirens Call Publications, we enjoy sharing the inspiration behind the stories contained within them. Our recent release, Bellows of the Bone Box is a combination of two fantastic genres – Steampunk and Horror. The authors have decided to share their inspirations of their story or talk about what Steampunk means to them. Today we feature an inspiration piece from O.M. Grey, who contributed Love is for the Living to Bellows of the Bone Box…
Olivia M. Grey writes Steamy Steampunk, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.
Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com.
The Inspiration Behind Love is for the Living
Inspiration for stories sometimes comes from the strangest places. A dream. A conversation. A relationship. A fleeting thought. Writing prompts. An image. A movie scene or snippet of dialogue. Historical events. Surviving trauma. A broken heart. Betrayal. I’ve written stories that have come from all of these and more.
Inspiration for a story is definitely the first step. Ideas. I’ve come across so many emerging authors who are terrified people will steal their ideas.
Ideas are a dime a million.
Creating something with those ideas is where the real work, and some say talent, comes in. At a Steampunk convention on the Queen Mary, we did a writer-in-the-round exercise where the moderator gave us a basic plot or beginning sentence, and we had to take it from there for three minutes. At the end of each writer’s turn, the next writer had to pick up where the last left off. It was a fascinating exercise, as each writer took the story in an entirely different direction and with a different style and voice than I would have. The discussion afterward proved that each author felt the same way.
Ideas, that spark of inspiration, are the first step, but a step does not a journey make.
Now, I said that ideas are a dime a million, and that’s true….if you’re good at the idea part. I’m not. Ideas are precious to me, as I don’t have that many. I can develop an idea into a pretty damn good story, once it takes seed, but unique ideas don’t come to me all that easily.
That’s why I’ve adopted a muse or two along the way. It’s also where Duotrope’s calendar and lists of themed anthologies come in handy. They ignite that spark of inspiration. My main muse, DJ Doctor Q, is full of fascinating, brilliant ideas! He’s got a head full of turning gears that do nothing but generate amazing ideas. When it’s time for me to write another short story, if I’ve got nothing, which, let’s face it, is almost always, then I ping my sweet muse. He spouts off four or five one sentence plot ideas, all brilliant, and one will take seed in my demented brain. Characters sprout. Scenes grow. Dialogue blooms.
I sit. I write and write and write. Then, I write some more. After all that, I revise and revise and revise. Then the characters take me places I never thought I’d go, usually in a totally different direction than Q would’ve thought, too. It becomes my story from Q’s seed. Q is thrilled with the arrangement because he gets to be a part of this creative process that he loves but feels he hasn’t the talent to develop (I disagree, btw). I love it because I get great ideas that spark even more ideas in my own twisted mind which turn into more stories.
Love is for the Living, the story in Bellows of the Bone Box: A Steampunk Anthology came from the merging of two seeds, maybe even three. It was the first time I had written short stories in this way. I had run a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a cover artist, new podcasting microphone, and a print run for two new titles. One of the rewards was to have your very own short story written by me. Five different people chose that level, and they gave me as much or as little input as they’d like. Timo, the protagonist for Love is for the Living, gave his name, a basic physical description, the choice for it to be erotic, and the phrase Love is for the Living. Q suggested a succubus and opium den, which I adored. I ran with those few elements and created Love is for the Living.
Voila. Steampunk short story.
The more I write, the better my short stories and storytelling abilities become. I’m thrilled with the number of stories that have been published this year already! Plus, I’m writing a new story or two every month, in addition to four novels and a nonfiction book. Ideas are precious. Inspiration is, at times, fleeting, but it always returns in some form or another. That is the beginning of creating something beautiful or horrible or heart-wrenching. That is the beginning of art.
The Steampunk and Horror genres are masterfully combined in the twelve stories contained within Bellows of the Bone Box. Each of the authors has transported you to an age where steam is the dominate means of power and has woven a tale that will fascinate, or possibly scandalize you.
In this volume, you will find clockworks, pneumatic tubes, airships, and leather worn out of necessity – not vanity. Can an engine be powered by human blood; should it be? What about body modification; what happens when the mechanical meets the biological and goes awry? Does the heart rule the machine, or does the machine consume the humanity that once existed within it? What of airships, regeneration, or hallucination; is it safe to trifle with such things? Should technology that can rift time and dimensions be researched; and if that research proves fruitful, should it ever see the light of day?
Packed full of intrigue, imagination, and horror, lovers of Steampunk will have a hard time deciding which of the twelve is their favorite!
Featuring the talents of:
Brad Bass, Paul Boulet, Laura Brown, Vivian Caethe, Alex Chase, Megan Dorei, O.M. Grey, Tarl Hoch, Gavin Ireland, Kirk Jones, Kate Monroe and Christofer Nigro
The following is an excerpt from O.M.’s Love is for the Living in Bellows of the Bone Box –
Timo exhaled, watching the thick smoke drift from his parted lips and curl past his half-closed eyes until it mingled with the heavy cloud suspended just above all their heads. The periodic sound of coughing filled the otherwise quiet den, which was just the way Timo liked it as it left him with his thoughts. Ironic, since he came here to escape them, but once the opium took hold of his faculties, his thoughts became less troublesome and much more pleasant. Little else satisfied him as much as the feeling of the smoke entering his lungs, knowing that a sense of peace would soon follow, and then she would be with him again. His lips held the pipe which in turn held the magical black pea. The only thing he would rather have on his lips were hers.
But that was impossible.
Timo blinked back the tears and motioned to the young Chinese girl who had seemed to take a fancy to him, and her favors did not escape his notice. Ever since he first started coming to Master Guo’s Opium Den shortly after Heather’s death, Mai-Lien had paid him special attention, likely because he was kind to her. He treated her like a woman, not a servant. He had observed with some disgust how others would treat her and make jokes about her skin tone or the shape of her eyes, and Timo found such jesting intolerable. Under normal circumstances he would have defended the lady’s honor, but as of late, his energy had dwindled to the point where even breathing seemed to take too much effort.
“Yes, Mister Timo,” she said with downcast eyes.
“Another pea, Mai-Lien. That’s such a beautiful name,” he slurred. “What does it mean?”
“Beautiful lotus.” A blush rose to Mai-Lien’s cheeks. She kept her eyes away from meeting his by focusing on her red silk slippers that matched the gold-trimmed hanfu. Intricate braids held her long, black hair close to her head. Only two loose strands, one over each shoulder, fell onto the gold-embroidered silk.
“May I have another of your magical peas, my beautiful lotus?” Timo held out a fistful of coins toward Mai-Lien.
She made a quick movement like a curtsey and apologized, “So sorry, Mister Timo, but you already have three today. Three is limit, sir.”
“The opium make you do strange things. I concern for you, Mister Timo. Please just sleep, sir.”
“Sleep? There is plenty of time for sleep later.”
“Yes, sir,” she replied, but she did not reach toward the silver tray full of opium peas.
“Have you ever been in love, Mai-Lien?”
Her eyes fluttered up and met his for the briefest moment, and he saw the heat therein, the desire he had seen in her before…
Come back tomorrow for another inspiration post from one of the authors in Bellows of the Bone Box!