IT IS MY PLEASURE TODAY TO HOST AUTHOR LAUREL McHARGUE ON HER BLOG TOUR.
You are welcome, Laura. Please take it away!
Whispers of the Past Day # 9
The Genesis of “Orbs” by Laurel McHargue
Orb: “1: any of the concentric spheres in old astronomy surrounding the earth and carrying the celestial bodies in their revolutions . . .” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orb).
Often when I’m inspired to write a new piece, be it fact or fiction, I’ll do a bit of research. It’s astounding how much I can learn in so little time, given access to a world of knowledge at my fingertips available 24/7.
How did I graduate from grade school without knowing frogs had teeth! This delightful discovery inspired a horrifying scene in Book I of my Waterwight series with one of my favorite characters—Orville—a flying frog. No, factual frogs can’t fly, though they can glide down from above, but they do have teeth. Who knew?
But I digress. My story “Orbs” was inspired by a vision I saw, albeit in my imagination. Imaginations can do that to you, you see. They can sneak up on you. There I was, just minding my own business, when a friend came along and started talking to me. And there it was—floating about three feet above her head—a shiny silver orb. It wasn’t really there, but when I considered what it might mean, I knew I had a story.
Orbs. Everyone has one, kind of like a guardian angel or, perhaps, a demon, but what good are they if they’re ignored? I decided one person wouldn’t ignore her orb. Story creation is all about making decisions, and once you make your first decision, subsequent decisions fall into place. There are lots of decisions to consider when creating fiction. For example, I had to decide the following for “Orbs”:
• Who is this one person?
• How old is she? How about a name?
• Where/how does she live?
• What’s her backstory, and how much of it, if any, should be included?
• What obstacle(s) must she overcome?
• In what P.O.V. should I write?
• What things should I research to make the story more credible?
• How will it end?!
These were not the only decisions I had to make, but they were the biggies. Over the years and countless projects, I’ve learned that when I accept my role as sole creator and decisionmaker, I feel liberated to set my muse free and trust that she will guide my imaginative wanderings. Sure, she’s sometimes stubborn, or sleepy, but she always comes around.
To be honest, I didn’t actually look up the definition of “orb” before writing this piece—I just brought it up to see if it might be a good way to start this blog post—and when I read “. . . and carrying the celestial bodies in their revolutions . . . ,” well, it gave me goosebumps. My tiny glowing orbs suddenly carried the weight of cosmic entities. How could that revelation not give me goosebumps? Goosebumps have sprouted on me frequently throughout my creative writing career, and often because of a tidbit discovered through research.
For example, when I knew there had to be a water god in Waterwight Flux: Book II of the Waterwight Series, I also knew I didn’t want it to be Poseidon. To the Googles! And wow! Do you know how many water gods there are? Only about this many (I’m holding out my arms like a fibbing fisherman right now). Overwhelmed by the number of gods from which to choose, I scanned down the list— immediately skipping over names I couldn’t pronounce—and landed on a name that started with “K.” I didn’t have any other characters with K-names, so I read the description of Kumugwe . . . and got goosebumps. Not only is Kumugwe a cool name, he’s also called “The Copper-Maker.”
You’ll have to read Book I to know why this tidbit gave me goosebumps, but there were other descriptors as well that tied into things I’d already written and new characters I had planned for Book II.
My discovery of Kumugwe had to have been influenced by an excited muse. There can be no other explanation. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, she talks about inspiration and how if it hits you— and you ignore it or put it on hold for too long—you’d better do something with it or it’ll find another more willing recipient. Inspiration craves expression.
So when I envisioned that mysterious orb above my friend’s head, I did something with it. I must have sensed the celestial significance of my vision. I hope you enjoy reading “Orbs” and the other stories in Whispers of the Past, and I hope you might consider my other work! Follow me on my website at https://leadvillelaurel.com/ and subscribe to my podcast Alligator Preserves, which now will include stories from my upcoming book Dark Ebb: Grim Tales. Do you have a dark/mysterious/surreal/creepy short story to share? Contact me! And if you’re up for an adventure, find me at this year’s Denver Starfest (May 1-3) and Denver Pop Culture Con (July 3-5).
A paranormal anthology with nine stories from six authors, including the winning story in the 2019 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest, A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known, by Jeff Bowles.
Award-winning author Laurel McHargue, a West Point grad, was raised near Boston and somehow found her way to the breathtaking elevation of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains–where she lives and laughs and publishes and podcasts. She writes about life, real and imagined, and hosts the podcast ‘Alligator Preserves.’ Contact her for interviews, book signings, and speaking engagements, but probably not for babysitting.
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Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-McHargue/e/B00INB9OO6
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