Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Post: Lindsey Duncan on Unusual or Strange Sources of Inspiritation

Lindsey Duncan is here today talking about the strangest or most unusual sources of inspiration that she has had. She also has a book coming out, Flow from Double Dragon Press.

Thanks to Diana for having me on her blog! Diana and I have known each for a while. I had the pleasure of proofing for her magazine, Emerald Tales – always a good read. And when she suggested the topic of the strangest or most unusual sources of inspiration, how could I resist? (Note that I’ve interpreted this as strange sources for ideas, not necessarily strange ideas in themselves. That would fill a whole volume …)

The first story that leaps to mind was inspired by a computer game. Part of the game involved a mystery sequence where you investigate an outbreak of vampirism in a small town, eventually to discover that the town priest is behind it. However, the game was buggy, and if the sequence wasn’t played in a precise order, the confrontation dialogue with the priest wouldn’t trigger … even though your characters had all the appropriate information. I tried several times to confront the priest, only to receive a blessing every time.

Finally, in annoyance, I shouted at the screen, “Stop blessing me, you’re the villain!”

I stopped, considered this. What a great line of dialogue. I then wondered how such a thing would come to pass, and what kind of character would say it. This turned into “Loyal Dice,” (forthcoming from Darwin’s Evolutions) the prequel to Fatecraft …and I used that opening sentence verbatim. It shaped Pazia’s personality: brave, forthright, and a little snarky. It also gave me the starting place for the antagonist, a priestess of the hearth goddess. But the story bears no resemblance to the game beyond the involvement of a cleric.

On a more disturbing note, I took inspiration for another story from a personal mishap. I am a terrible clutz, constantly bumping, knocking and bruising myself. At one point, I took a particularly impressive slide down the stairs on my leg. The resulting bruise turned out quite artistic – looked, in fact, like an angel. My brain took a left turn from there and pondered a form of temporary tattooing created by deliberate bruises. This turned into a murder mystery, where the “art” was confounded by real injuries.

I’ve always enjoyed randomly generated parameters for stories, whether it be collecting words from volunteers or hitting random on an art site and weaving the images into a plotline. I’ve found divination cards, such as Tarot, to be useful for this purpose, as well … and even an old deck of Magic: The Gathering cards contributed to the cause. I also bought a deck of cards for a fairy tale storytelling game, and “Sleepwalking” (Alternative Coordinates, Winter 2009) came from this.

Probably the most unusual generator I’ve used was intended to create plots, albiet for a very different venue: the 48 Hour Film Project, a madcap adventure where each team is given a character, prop, genre and a line of dialogue and set loose to create a (no more than) seven minute film in the next two days. I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project once as a scriptwriter and had a blast. We had a “road trip” film that involved toting a kayak (one of my contributions to the script was a series of increasingly more complex palindromes), filmed mostly at night. I got sleep – I’m not sure anyone else did!

I ended up writing a bunch of practice scripts from a generator connected to the Project – and one, a recruitment drive for a superhero reality TV show, turned into the short story “Super Solutions.”

So those are some of my most peculiar idea sources, stumbled across over the years. Who knows what the next one will be?

LINDSEY DUNCAN is the author of contemporary fantasy Flow, just released by Double Dragon Publishing. Flow follows the water-witch Chailyn, on dry land for her first mission, and Kit, a contemporary teen with mysterious powers, as they seek the man who killed Kit's mother ... a goal which catches the interest of the darkest of fairies. They must also deal with the Borderwatch, a zealous organization that hunts fairies and has been in a cold war with the water-witches for decades.

Flow can be found here:

To tie back to this post, three of her short stories are also available for individual sale:
Taming the Weald:
The Naming Braid:


  1. I love how you've found inspiration for your stories, especially the bruise one. I can completely see how you would come up with that idea. :)

    1. And, of course, here I was collecting the Word of the Day off dictionary sites and forgot to do it ... ;-)