I’ve often gone on public record to say I seek out inspiration from everywhere. As an artist, I feel it’s my job to see the unseen and find inspiration in unlikely or overlooked places. I’ve worked this way throughout my artistic life and it has yet to fail me.
Recently I announced I was going to embark on a bit of a genre tangent and wanted to highlight what it was that inspired my first purely sci-fi outing.
Even before the inspiration hit, I knew I wanted to tackle something a bit different. I already have a steampunk series worked up, and was fairly certain that was going to be my next novel (and it might still be — I’ll see what kind of mood I’m in after I complete T-Minus Zero), but some strange bug crawled under my skin and begged I trip the light spacelicious. It wasn’t until I wrapped my ears around the Coheed & Cambria song The Afterman, that the inspiration for the story struck me.
Oh sure, he’s going the song route again. Sort of. If you listen to the lyrics of the song (I won’t reproduce them here, as that goes against copyright law), you’ll see very little that relates to science fiction. The inspiration didn’t come from the words — it was what lie between the words. In the opening of the song, the guitar chimes an ethereal riff that begs the listener to dive in deep. Take a listen.
As the notes bounced out of my headphones (when I need to REALLY listen to that which lay in between the melody, I always use headphones), my imagination was lifted out into space — to something lonely, an outcast, innocent moon became home to a collection of souls deemed unfit to exist on Earth.
While that guitar riff bounced about my head, the plot developed and soon I had everything ready to begin telling the tale of what will eventually become either The Delirium Chamber or The Aftermath.
Most people dig around the world, searching for inspiration from the obvious. Artists, on the other hand, overturn the rock and rubble to seek out the deeper, hidden meaning in life. When you peel away the outer layers, what you will find is jaw-dropping. The next time you need inspiration, put on your favorite song and listen with new ears — tune out the obvious and dive in and out of the in between. You’ll be shocked at what you find within the hidden inspiration.