Inspiration Series: The Readers

by Renee Miller

I think the number one question I’m asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Maybe it’s because some of my stories are fucked up, but I think most authors find this question pretty common. Anyway, it’s a hard question to answer, because inspiration is everywhere. There is no one place authors get their ideas from. So, we thought, let’s look at where we get our ideas, and try to answer this question in a series of posts. For me, a big source of inspiration is you. The Reader. Yes, I freely admit that I use ideas pitched to me by others, although what I end up writing isn’t usually what the pitcher had in mind.

For example, CATS LIKE CREAM, my horror novella that’s coming out in November via DarkFuse, is about a real estate agent who takes the process of buying and selling a home to a very dark place. The inspiration for the story came from a friend who was a real estate agent, but in his mind, it was a comedy. A caper, if you will. And it had huge potential as a comedy. I loved the idea. I mulled the idea over in my mind for a long time, almost a year, but every time I sat down to flesh it out, I wasn’t really thrilled with what I came up with. So, I set it aside. And then the friend passed away suddenly, and I thought about the conversation we had again. It was a good idea, and I wanted to use it somehow. Sort of a tribute. I sat down, thought about his sense of humor, which was fantastically warped, by the way, and using his many weird ideas as inspiration, I began writing. A few days later I had a draft, and now, we have the twisted nightmare you’ll get to read soon. It’s not what he pitched me, but I think he’d have loved it.

But that’s not the only time someone has suggested an idea I’ve used. Our very own, Christian Saunders once tossed an idea my way. Once I was sure he really didn’t want to use it, I wrote KILLERS. Now I think I owe him my soul or something. Whatever. Worth it.

Over the past ten years, when I started letting people read what I wrote, I’ve had more ideas pitched to me than I can count. These range from actual stories to just characters, settings or themes. Many are duds, or just something I haven’t been able to work with. A few are brilliant and I’m not sharing them with anyone. They’re locked away in a top secret idea file for future use. Christian might get one, but only because I think I want to keep my soul.

You might wonder if using someone else’s idea is plagiarism, or maybe you think it’s not very creative. To you I say, suck it. Just kidding. No, I’m not. It’s not plagiarism, because an idea isn’t a tangible thing. You have to take it and make it into something worth reading. You still have to iron out the plot, create characters, and build the world the idea is set in. If you’re not creative, you can’t do that. A dozen people can take a single idea and produce completely different stories from it.  Writers toss ideas around all the time. We give, take, and add to what’s already written. We call it brainstorming and it’s wonderful.

In addition to my readers, my husband (he wishes that I wouldn’t call him that as it’s “not legal,” but I do what I want), Kurt, is the source of many ideas, as are my kids (although they have much more PG tales in mind). We toss ideas around now and then (by that I mean, I sit them down and force them to listen to me brainstorm until they help me make sense of what I’m thinking just to shut me up), and occasionally, we come up with gold. I’m lucky to live with extremely imaginative people. My Milo Smalls stories were inspired by my kids, and an upcoming project, EAT THE RICH, was inspired by a conversation I had with Kurt while I had him trapped in the car with me. He said two words: Hobo cannibals. I’m thinking he believed the idea was so ridiculous, I’d just shut up, but I said “What would it be called?” Then one of us said “Eat the rich?” (can’t remember if it was him or me that said it first) And I knew it was something worth pursuing. We laughed at the crazy shit we plotted, but the idea stuck. I couldn’t shake it. And now I’ve got 50,000 words of apocalyptic horror with a dash of funny sitting here waiting for me to polish it into submittable form.

Anyway, my point is if you’re a writer and people are coming at you with ideas, don’t brush them off. Don’t act like you’re the shit and only your ideas are worth considering. Listen. Make a note. You never know when something will click in your head. Sometimes their idea blends with one of your own and you discover gold. Writers aren’t the only people with imagination. Be open. Don’t be a cocky piece of shit.

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And readers, if you feel like you want to pitch an idea to a favorite author, don’t be shy. Go for it. If he doesn’t use it, no big deal. Odds are, he is just mulling it over or saving it, because he’s not sure what to do with it. Or he could be offended you offered a suggestion, because his massive ego affects his common sense. Who knows. Maybe your favorite author’s a dick. Some of us are. You should read authors who aren’t dicks.

Don’t let it deter you, though, if an author doesn’t use an idea you pitch to her. Our biggest source of inspiration, ideas or no ideas, is our readers. We want to entertain and inform you. When we write, you’re constantly on our minds, so what you have to say about what we write should be the most important words we hear. I’m always open to ideas. Just saying. Creativity needs nourishment, and I find that my readers have lots of juicy morsels I’m happy to consume. (No, Kim. Jack doesn’t have a sequel yet.)

Anyway, now you know one of my sources of inspiration. Next time, I’m going to talk about murder, so stay tuned.

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Doctor Who Has a Dick and You Just Need to Accept That

by Steve Wetherell 

 

 

Listen up you mindless sheeple, ‘cause I’m about to mansplain a few things to you. I’ll happily accept that women can be doctors (providing they’re not my doctor) but I draw the line that at women being Doctor Whos. They just can’t. Because Doctor Who is a man, and has been for generations. Through his various iterations, brought to life by various actors and writers each with their own unique perspectives on the character, the unifying characteristics have always been that the Time Lord has two hearts and two balls.

A woman being a Doctor Who is just ludicrous. I mean, Doctor Who is a calm, rational pacifist, and everyone knows that women are screeching lunatics with no sense of proportion. A woman Doctor Who would probably try to claw the Master’s eyes out before breaking down and crying into a tampon. Then they’d travel back in time to when they were prettier and never come back because they’d met a nice man and settled down. And exactly how much maternity leave does a Time Lord expect? Will the world be laid to waste by Cyber Men because Lady Doctor took nine hundred years off to stay at home watching daytime TV and eating toast? FUCK THAT!

It’s time we took back Doctor Who from the Cuck Travelling Time Lord he has become (sorry, that should read Time Travelling Cuck Lord) and made him a man’s man again. Maybe have a Doctor with a beard who just continuously flaps his balls onto the table whenever he’s talking. Maybe a Doctor who finally puts a decent spoiler on the Tardis, and kits it out with a plush leather interior. Some respectable subwoofers. A Doctor that smokes cigars and once hit someone with a pool cue because that someone said something about his mum. And give him a robot dog again, for fuck’s sake! And don’t even think about substituting with a robot cat. Cats are gay, and anyone who disagrees can travel back in time to when women still knew how to make sandwiches, and make me a fucking time travel sandwich. 

 

By now you probably think I’m satirising all the misogynists who can’t stand the thought of a female Doctor Who, but I’m actually not. I thought I’d just contribute something controversial, because the people outraged about misogynists being against a female Doctor Who seem to vastly outnumber the actual misogynists who are against a female Doctor Who. I rather suspect that it’s just one person living in Croydon whose mum once stamped on his model Daleck. 

I don’t think there are really that many professed Doctor Who fans who also hate women, though there will be some, obviously, because chances are one in ten people you meet is an irredeemable cock-hole. (But which one? Look out, it’s the one dressed as a priest! He’s got a knife!) And as for those who aren’t Doctor Who fans, well they probably just don’t give a shiny golden fuck about your tea-drinking dimension-hopping train spotter.

I must admit, when I see people openly weeping about there being a woman Doctor, I feel like I’ve gotten up for a piss and then realised mid-flow that I’m actually at a Peruvian wedding. And then I realise it’s a dream, and I’ve pissed myself, and that I’m at an entirely different Peruvian wedding. I find it weird, is what I’m saying.

Is it important? It certainly seems like it. Freud died without ever answering the question “What do women want?” If someone would have just told him it was a female Doctor Who we could have saved the guy a lot of trouble. Likewise, if we’d known that solving equality would have been as simple as gender swapping a kids TV show character, we could have demanded this be done years ago.

So, what next? Why not a woman Robin Hood? Why not a woman King Arthur? Why not a woman James Bond? There is no real answer. It doesn’t matter. And if it sells more reboots? Have at it. (So long as you don’t get a fucking American to play it, because that kind of prejudice is fine, for some reason.) 

…One thing, though. If gender representation in pop culture is so important, and little girls need to be able to see themselves as Doctor Whos, and Ghostbusters and Iron Mans, then isn’t anyone a little concerned that we’ve just gender swapped the one pacifist, intellectual male adventure hero in the mainstream? 

…Just gonna leave that there…

 …and back away slowly…

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The Swearing Corner: USA vs UK

 by Steve Wetherell

Like much of the world, I grew up on American television, and so was comfortably exposed to a lot of American swear words. (‘Shit’ was the big deal when I was a kid. People always seems to be shouting “Ooooh, shiiiiiit!”)

However, I’ve also always been proud of the wonderful rainbow of swearwords in my own country. I don’t think you’ve really heard ‘wanker’ until you’ve heard it said by an angry cockney, and the sheer dismissive silliness of a northern Englishman calling you a ‘bell-end’ is a whimsical thing indeed.

So, I’ve always considered it a fine thing that I have two pots of foul language to draw from. But, let’s be real here, not all swear words transfer across the Atlantic particularly well. There are some words that just sound better in Americanese, and likewise some that sound better in Original Recipe English. 

Ass versus Arse is a great example. There are some British who seem to think these are interchangeable, and in fairness they both technically mean the same thing. There’s a whole different universe of inflection there, though. Arse is just…well… a bit grimy, and so is suited when a bit of dirtiness is called for. Ass is generally more positive, more action orientated. You’d kick an ass, you’d move an ass, you’d get some ass. Arse, has an insidious drawl to it. If you kick an arse, you might need to disinfect your foot afterwards, and god help the sinister pervert who openly says he wants to get some arse. People will, quite rightly, move away from him on the bus. 

On the other hand, if you call someone an ass, it’s very PG13. Call someone an arse, and it packs more of a punch. This stands up even to the addition of ‘hole’. 

On the flip side, Americans can simply not say ‘twat’ properly. They pronounce if ‘Twodt’ which sounds like a fish course for which you need an acquired taste (I realise there’s a solid innuendo there.) But that softening of the consonant robs it of any veracity. 

The British pronounce twat in two distinct ways. There’s ‘twadt’ with a soft T. This is when you roll your eyes because someone’s being silly. Then there’s ‘twatt’ with the hard T. This is for when the knives come out. 

The final comparison is in the old staple for when you desire personal space; ‘fuck off’. Again, there’s no separate meaning, but it’s all about inflection. American’s tend to emphasise the latter half of the phrase: “Fuck OFF” or even ‘Fuk’OFF’. Shortening the Fuck and elongating the Off. That’s got a real nice aggressive ring to it. Carries a lot of weight in a small package, like a pool ball in a sock. In Britain, it tends to be the opposite; “FUCK off.” A pronunciation particularly prevalent in Scotland. While this pronunciation acts the growl of its American counterpart, it does have an airy dismissiveness to it that can be useful. In short, the American version serves as a warning. It implies consequence. The British version merely scatters your opinion to the wind and then goes off to buy another drink.

Multiculturalism is a wonderful thing…

 

The Swearing Corner: The “C” Word

by Steve Wetherell

I was in Newfoundland once, for whatever reason, sitting in the smoking area in their seemingly eternal winter and talking to some locals. They were curious about my English heritage, and as a bit of fun, we got onto popular swear words. What, they wanted to know, was a common swear word unique to your neck of the woods.

“Bawbag,” I said, after some consideration. It’s essentially “Ball-bag” (or scrotum) filtered through the Scots-English heritage of my hometown. It’s a nice handy put down, often said with a half smile and a shake of the head when someone accidentally throws up on his own dog. My turn done, the locals turned their attention to my sister, a Londoner then of five years or so.

She squinted into the perennial snowstorm for a moment, before answering; “Cunt.”

Unexpectedly, the tone of the gathering changed almost instantly, and I was surprised to see genuine shock on the faces of our hosts.

It seemed that “Cunt” had a little more sting in its tail across the cold Atlantic than it did on our own side.

Since this worldly revelation, I’ve been more careful about using the word in company, particularly in front of Canadians, Americans, and other weirdos. Where I come from “Cunt” is a fairly genderless put down that can be used both casually and with venom. Someone leaves his wallet at home? He’s a silly cunt. Someone runs over your cat, deliberately? He’s a proper cunt.

However, whenever I see the word used in American media (and that’s rarely) it is always a man being venomous to a woman. it seems that, in a very popular sense, it is very much a word that hates women. That’s a shame, because it’s a create word. Think of it phonetically.

“Kk”

“UUUnn”

“Tt”

There’s so many hard, visceral sounds in that word its practically pornographic. It’s a word that can be growled, spit or screamed with utter confidence. It’s a word that carries.

Is it anymore offensive to women than, say, ‘prick’ is to men? Yes, I think so, simply because of the strength of the word. The soft ‘Puh’ or prick doesn’t sand up to the hard ‘Cuh’, and while Cock has a Cuh’ sound going for it ‘ock’ lacks the deep undulating ‘uh’ and the final disapproving ‘tttt’.

You can see why we Brits adopted it as punctuation.

Still, knowing its power, and because my audience is mostly American, its a word I try to use sparingly.

Other than in this article, of course.

You cunt.