Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writing Inspiration: Punk Fanboys, College, and Vinnie Pies

Pittsburgh, view from the incline
I get inspiration from everywhere. Things stick in the back of my mind - blaring neon signs begging to be shared. They bother me until I have to write them into a story. Sometimes it's unexpected. Sometimes it's conscious and intentional.

I have this love of those indie and punk rock fanboys. Really. They're my not-so-secret crush. You know the ones - the kind who wear band shirts and low slung dark jeans. They are so adamant about their views and on the turn of a dime ruthlessly mock themselves. The ones who sing you lullabies, kiss soft, and stare with such smoldering intensity you can't wait to tackle them in a broom closet, on the playground, and under the bleachers.

Ahem. That's how my character Laran came to be in the KHLOE ALWELL series.

Then there's the places that make you into who you are - colleges and universities - the ones where you party with your professors and the lines blur between mentor, employer, and friend. They live in small towns that bend around the space of the university, and everything stops in summer.It's something between UCSB, Penn State, Juniata, and Bard. That's where Alisa meets Dr. Pierce in BELOW THE BELT.

But inspiration can be more than a specific place - it can be a complete culture, including everything from the food people eat to the entertainment they enjoy.

For example, my dad's family is from Pittsburgh. Whenever we visit, we always go to Vincent's Pizza. I frickin love that place. People on the west coast do NOT understand about pizza. They don't. Anyone who claims they know what good pizza is and then talk about a national chain is stupidly limited in their exposure to good pizza.

There are several styles. There is the Chicago style, which has a time and place. There is Sicilian, also a time and place. Then there is New York, which kind of migrates from NYS down into Jersey, Philly, and west all the way to Pittsburgh. Seriously (I've been to these places and lived there - trust me on this.). These are the kinds of places that have crust so thin in the middle it falls apart when you pick it up. The sauce has simmered for days, because health codes can't get in the way of taste. The cheese is piled high. Once baked, the crust bubbles and the grease settles in the center, threatening a coronary.

So yeah, every Rollins boy loves Vinnie's pies. And he loves the Steelers. And the Pirates. And the Penguins. Because that's what it means to be from Pittsburgh, something that only people with ties to Pittsburgh understand.

And I wanted to share these things, because they were so important to my own formation. They marked my days and nights and built me into the woman I am today. How could I not write about them? About smoldering eyes, fun colleges, and delicious pizza?

These are the things I pull from reality to give readers a glimpse. They are the details that build believable books.

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