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Of Feathers, Stars, and Melodies

June 27, 2013

Image courtesy of Steven Iodice @ stock.xchngWings, rain, dreams, starlight, footprints, silver and songs —these are some of the spices in my Muse’s cupboard, and with every story I brew up, I find the same flavors mixed up in different ways. A bit of moonshine, a dark melody, a flutter of wings and before I know it, my story sizzles with a different seasoning, but one that hints of previous endeavors.

In this latest WIP, I’ve just discovered the name of my male protagonist and one of my Muse’s favorite flavors, feathers and wings, once again played a role in its creation.

Intrigued, I decided to trace the history of our feathered friends through my storytelling evolution.

I guess you could say it started with my NaNoWriMo handle, which is Larkk. I needed the extra ‘k’ because, apparently, Lark is a popular handle amongst writers who try to write fifty thousand words in month!Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 7.51.35 PM

Then, as if pointing the way to future stories I would write, my very first novel draft ended with two birds flying into the darkness. Two revisions later, a dream the protagonist has about doves flying under the full moon led me to the place the story began. My second book seems to have escaped the feathers, (just wait until revision, I say!) but the heroine bears the nickname ‘Nightingale’ because she is the Muse of the protagonist’s dreams.

Birds played an important role in my third story, where the population of a distant world shares a psychic bond with the animal kingdom. The sorcerer overlords imprison all the birds inside their lair because if their subjects could see what birds see, the sorcerers’ secrets would be exposed and their dominion overthrown.

Have you ever flown in your dreams? In my fourth story, Constants, I propose a science fiction reason why all of humanity shares that common dream. The secret project to unearth this reason is named Nightingale. To further tie into the theme of flight, the main character in that story is an aerospace engineer who works at Boeing in Seattle. As you’ll see, I have a thing for rocket scientists.

In my fifth book, A Crown of Thorns, animatronic dragons fly between the moon and the earth, their flight courtesy of the future’s anti-gravity technology.Image courtesy of Asif Akbar @ stock.xchng

My most recent creation, The Whole of the Moon, the prequel to A Crown of Thorns, features another aerospace engineer, who eventually takes the name Swansong, and designs aircraft designed to protect the pilot at all costs. His wife is named Avery, which means Elf Ruler, but also sounds an awful lot like aviary.

Anyway, I suppose it was only a matter of time until the birds made their appearance in this new story. With a nod to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, and inspired by a favorite line from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I give you: Falcon Cooper.

Do you find recurring themes in your writing? What spices are in your Muse’s cupboard?

Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian @ stock.xchng

Geese and moon image courtesy of Steven Iodice, falcon image courtesy of Asif Akbar, spices on spoons image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian, all @ stock.xchng
  1. June 27, 2013 9:43 pm

    Wow! Lovely, thoughtful blog. As always, you’ve given me a great thinking point. Since I’m ready to start Lies and Legends, it’s the perfect time to review my recurring themes. I’ll fall asleep tonight organizing my literary spice rack. 🙂

    • June 27, 2013 11:08 pm

      Thanks, Nancy. 🙂
      I really am curious if other writers have similar themes running through their various stories, and if they are as obvious as mine seem to be.
      It’s gotten to be a game for me though to see which of my themes show up and how they manifest themselves!

  2. Will permalink
    June 28, 2013 4:41 am

    Hi Kirsten, this is indeed a nice theme and good food for thought. I hadn’t considered whether the Lands of Hope evince consistent themes, though of course the world has features, customs, sayings and lots more I have to be very careful about sprinkling in. World-building is a touchy subject in and of itself- go light on the spices, readers yell! But you know they need it…
    Your descriptions reminded me of Jungian archetypes, particularly imagery such as birds and things that appear or happen in dreams.

    • June 28, 2013 6:23 pm

      Hi Will,
      Dreams are another huge area of exploration in my stories! I agree, too much world building can slow up the story telling. It’s just interesting to find common ground between completely different story worlds. 🙂

  3. June 28, 2013 8:37 am

    Funny how everything ties together in the end, even when we don’t plan it!

    • June 28, 2013 6:25 pm

      Isn’t it? Those are the times when I wonder where do the stories really come from? Me or some magical well only writers can dip into?

  4. June 28, 2013 2:23 pm

    It’s funny. That has been on my mind a lot recently: the symbols and themes that crop up in a particular author’s fiction. Mine tend to be fire, dragons, and anything related to burning; sacrifice; tea, coffee, and other beverages; books; music; glass; gold-colored rock or brick; computers; and rain, storms, rivers, and water. Oh, and blood.

    • June 28, 2013 6:30 pm

      Yay! I’m not the only one this happens to!
      I am definitely going to start looking for themes like this in other authors’ work. The fun thing is how these themes disguise themselves, but ultimately boil down to these same building blocks.
      Gold-colored rocks and bricks? Interesting! And I remember the glass. That was/is very cool. (And glass is technically a liquid isn’t it? Kind of like water … 😉 )
      Like I said, fun!

  5. T.F.Walsh permalink
    June 29, 2013 1:36 am

    Great post… I totally dream of flying, but for some reason I just can’t do anything more than hover above the ground. Pretty poor flying attempt:) I love the idea of your future books.

    • June 30, 2013 9:07 am

      I hope you find your wings someday!
      Actually, all the books I talked about are already written in first draft. 🙂 They just need revision. I know–that’s the difference between hovering over the ground and soaring amongst the clouds …

  6. July 1, 2013 8:24 am

    Can I just say I’m impressed you’ve written 5 novels. Way to go!

    • July 1, 2013 9:35 pm

      Thanks, Kristina!
      (And this WIP is actually my seventh novel first draft. One of my stories contained no wings whatsoever, as far as I could tell anyway …)
      I’m a pretty fast writer, but a very slow reviser.

      • July 2, 2013 6:46 am

        You’re amazing. I’m only on book four.

        • July 2, 2013 8:54 pm

          Four books is a lot–especially if you’ve revised them and they are ready to send out! Mine are in various states of construction … 😉

  7. July 2, 2013 8:14 am

    I LOVE the name. …and reading the blog post to get to it. You have quite an imagination! Can’t wait to read your books! 🙂

    • July 2, 2013 8:57 pm

      Awww … thanks, Melissa. 🙂
      I’m sometimes a bit hesitant about my character names, especially when I first start working with them, but this one came to me and just stuck. Which is why I found it so interesting that it meshes so well with my other stuff!

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