By Jenny Hale
I wish I had this wonderful formula for how I create stories, but my mind doesn’t work that way. If my brain was a closet, and my ideas were the things in that closet, it would look like this: everything hanging neatly, perfectly folded items in their places, shoes lined on the bottom… Then, I’d get that one new piece, and hang it up, only to have the entire bar fall, lumping everything askew at the bottom, in a giant heap.
I might meet someone who smiles in a unique way, or a person may laugh with a little huff, and I grin every time I think of it—these are nuggets of inspiration that send my neatly organized closet of ideas into a heap. If I’ve created a character in my head, something as simple as a huff of laughter might completely change the way that character looks and feels to me.
When I need emotion, I turn to music for inspiration. Sometimes, a song will create the emotion in me that I can then feed into my character. By experiencing emotions first hand, I can then write how the body, brain, and then character react to that emotion.
I’m inspired by locations. I typically choose settings that I’ve actually visited. I feel that a certain setting draws a particular type of person to live there, and knowing the setting inside and out helps me to create believable characters. For example, someone who chooses to live in an apartment in Manhattan may be different than someone who lives in a rural town in coastal Virginia. Settings, to me, bring perspectives, and characters are born originally out of those perspectives.
I’m inspired all the time. The click of heels on pavement, the wind on my face, the glance of a stranger on the street—it all gets stored away for later.
My upcoming novel, Summer by the Sea is set along the coast of North Carolina on a strip of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks, where I’ve spent many summers. I hope readers will enjoy reading about the place that inspired the story about two sisters, falling in love, and not always getting what we want but, instead, ending up with exactly what we need. It will be released Summer, 2015.
When Jenny graduated college, one of her friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her. Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t. While she didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, she completed a novel that she felt was worthy of publication. The result was ‘Coming Home for Christmas’. She’s now releasing her fourth book, ‘Summer By the Sea’, this summer, and she’s never looked back.