by Richelle Mead
People often ask where I get my inspiration from, and I always say I have no good answer because, well, inspiration comes from everywhere: people, places, memories. There are little gems all around us that can hold glimmers of inspiration. Here’s one of my more unexpected ones.
Louisa May Alcott, most famously known for writing "Little Women," had a much lesser known novel called "Eight Cousins." It’s about a preteen girl who’s orphaned and sent to live in the town her father grew up in, where she discovers she has seven boy cousins and a whole bunch of quirky aunts and uncles. Anyway, the book’s good, but I’m not in love with it. What I’m REALLY in love with is its sequel, "Rose in Bloom." Yeah...did I mention that the girl’s name is Rose? (Rose Hathaway wasn’t named after Alcott’s Rose Campbell, but it’s certainly one of the reasons I feel so strongly toward that name).
In "Rose in Bloom," Rose is now a young lady, and that means she’s ready for what I really hang around for: romance! One of Rose’s many suitors is Mac, her quietest and plainest cousin (it was the 19th century, they were cool with that cousin stuff). She kindly tells him that although she loves him as family and a best friend, he’s not the romantic hero she’s been dreaming of and that he needs to move on. He tells her he can’t and that he’s going to just love her in his own way while she goes on with her life. He then launches this masterful campaign where he never brings up love again but eventually wins her over by being both a true friend to her and by doing all these subtle yet swoon-worthy romantic gestures that eventually leave her flustered and realizing, “Hey, maybe my best friend can be a romantic hero.”
I absolutely adore this love story. When I was getting ready to start "The Indigo Spell," I was fully prepared to have Adrian be in brooding, snarky mode toward Sydney and/or constantly trying to win her over with flashy, in-your-face gestures. Then I thought, “What if he took a Mac approach? What if Adrian just plays it cool and is like, ‘Okay, Sydney, you do what you’ve got to do.’ I honestly wasn’t sure if Adrian could pull it off. Mac is a serious, patient character, who’s used to being sidelined. Those aren’t terms that usually describe Adrian, but I was suddenly really excited to see if someone like him, who’s so used to being adored and having instant gratification, could be responsible and strong enough to hang in there for the long haul. Could he respect Sydney’s feelings enough to step back and not constantly try to pitch to her? Could he be mature enough to not be bitter about her rejection? And could he be patient enough to see if she’d eventually come around on her own, if he continued being the friend she’d grown close to?
Those questions got me really excited to write the book, and that takes me back to the initial topic of inspiration. Like I said, it comes from everywhere, and often, it’s just asking a “What if?” question. You see something like I did in Alcott’s book and then try to turn it around and put it in a totally wacky context. That’s the great thing about being a writer. You dream up amazing questions...and then dream up even more amazing answers.
Richelle's latest, "The Indigo Spell," is out now.