Happy Vernal Equinox (Ostara) to you all! With the increase in temperature and amount of sunshine, my creative instincts are stirring slightly. I haven’t quite been able to get back into writing on a regular basis, but at least the interest is slowly returning!
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost April. Last year around this time I was preparing the script of my graphic novel Astral Rain as my entry for Script Frenzy. Because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about Astral Rain recently and thought it might be interesting to share the origins of the story.
Astral Rain was inspired by a quiz. Back in the days of Myspace (before Facebook ruled the earth) I was obsessed with taking quizzes and surveys. It was a pleasant way for me to kill some time between classes and to explore the internet. During this period, I discovered Quizilla, which sent me over the moon. I have no idea how many quizzes I took, but I was always drawn to the ones with pictures. For some reason, this quiz in particular drew my attention. I always look at the “View All Results” to see the other options and the descriptions and pictures of the other “powers” fascinated me.
I like things with symmetry and magical elements, so the systematic presentation of Clairvoyance, Time Travel, Telekinesis, etc. made the creative wheels in my head start to turn. It made me wonder, “What if there was a character with the dominant personality paired with the power in each quiz result?” And that’s pretty much what I did. Irene, Matthias, Jenny, Damian, Linnet, Vanessa, and Peony are each, in essence, a quiz result. For Matthias, I did combine Time Travel and Mind Control and Vanessa is a mixture of Teleportation and Super Speed. I also dropped a few of the less interesting powers like Breathing Underwater and Flight to focus on the ones that seemed more unique or stand-alone so that I ended up with seven characters rather than twelve.
Like so many of my stories, Astral Rain was, for a while, just a collection of interesting characters without a plot. After some time, I also started to realize that each character was also drawing heavily from different aspects of my own nature, some channeling my motherly side, others my colder, more analytical nature, and so forth. I gradually started building a world around them (an Earth colony planet called Aura), creating a name for people like Irene and her friends (“Sennin” from the Japanese word meaning “fairy”), and, slowly, by exploring their back-stories and the history of their world, a plot emerged. It is still very skeletal since I’ve been focusing more on The Mariner Sequence than on Astral Rain…but I still hope that Astral Rain will be one of the works I finish sooner rather than later. I would love to find an artist who would make it into a graphic novel, but plan on writing it out as a novel as well (just in case that never comes to fruition.)
I hope this illustrates that the inspiration for a story really can come from anywhere. You simply have to be open-minded, creative, and let the ideas flow.