Today I’m joined by Morgan Elektra who shares with us, not only the inspiration behind her book A Single Heartbeat, but some ideas for getting inspiration flowing. Plus there’s some photos, some music and an excerpt.
So handing over to Morgan…
It’s nearly impossible to go through life as a writer and not get the, “Where do you get your ideas?” question. And no matter how difficult it can be to answer, I understand the inclination. When I see an athlete dedicated to their sport, or an actor killing their craft, I often wonder the same thing. Or, the equivalent, anyway.
Because, really, I think what we want to know is what drives people, what motivates them. What inspires them.
Merriam-Webster, my favorite, sassy online dictionary, defines ‘inspiring’ as ‘having an animating or exalting effect’.
‘Animating’ being the key bit, I think. That’s the crux of it, really. We want to know where it comes from, what makes it go.
Unfortunately, while it seems like a simple question, it’s often incredibly complicated and very difficult to explain to someone else. Which, in the case of authors—who live so much in our own heads and are not always great with the interpersonal stuff—can sometimes result in snarky or smartass responses. (Harlan Ellison, who is known for his somewhat grumpy personality, famously replied “Schenectady” when asked where he got his ideas.)
The truth is, we all have our things. The ones that make us feel energized, ready to take on the world. Even if you’re not a writer, I’m sure you’ve got a song that gets you pumped to tackle your workout, or a special route you take to the office to get the most delicious coffee (or check out the cute barista.) Maybe there’s a hike you take to a spectacular view, or a TV show that’s the equivalent of comfort food for your mind. Whatever it is that stokes your internal fires.
As a writer, instead of turning those moments into energy for a run, or a day of board meetings, my brain cobbles together all the little bits stored in my subconscious into characters who walk and talk and want to tell their stories. It furnishes their world.
In the case of my novella A Single Heartbeat, the inspiration began while rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Specifically, the season 2 episode ‘School Hard’. (Which, in itself, was inspired by the movie Die Hard.)
But there’s a scene in that episode where Spike has gone to the Bronze to scope out the Slayer, and he prowls the edges of the crowd, watching Buffy dance. James Marsters is all kinds of gorgeous, and despite the fact that Spike is very much in love with Drusilla at that point, there’s an undeniable sensuality to his actions in this episode. Especially the entire sequence at The Bronze, from Spike’s surreptitious dance floor surveillance, to the fight in the alley.
This is where the first spark came from, the idea that would serve as the foundation of what became A Single Heartbeat.
(Anyone who reads the novella will see the bones of that very first moment of inspiration. From the color of Will’s hair and eyes to the location of the story—though Sang is a more dangerous beast than The Bronze! And Will & Reese’s story takes a very different trajectory than Buffy & Spike’s.)
Of course, my mind fanned the flames of that first flicker into a blaze. Because of my preference for writing M/M erotica & romance, I immediately changed the players to men. Instead of a vampire full of life and looking to take down a rival, I imagined how—after so many years of life—an immortal being might grow bored and jaded. In my mind, that creature was urbane and sexy, but not really engaged in the world around him. Until he sees something in Will that reignites his inner flame.
Something that inspires him, you might say.
But, like Reese, it’s not enough just to feel the desire. You have to act on it. As a writer, that means sitting your butt in a chair (or wherever you feel comfortable) and pounding out those words.
Despite the abundance of books and articles out there, I don’t believe there’s a way to tell people how to write. It’s an incredibly individual endeavor, and what works for someone else—even if that person is a successful author—won’t necessarily work for you. Some authors have corkboards and they pin up index cards with ideas on them, or images that rev their imagination. Others use functions in programs like Scrivener that do something similar on the computer. While I kept all of the things that fleshed out A Single Heartbeat in my head, for a novel I’m working on currently, I have a board on Pinterest with images and links to things that inspire me when working on that project.
(You can take a glimpse at it here if you’re interested in seeing what the inside of my brain looks like… at least in this specific story locale: https://www.pinterest.com/morganelektra/protecting-his-pack-inspiration-board/)
Some writers plan, some pants it.
None of these are the wrong way to do it.
But, if you’re looking for some ways to refill your inspiration gauge, here are 5 suggestions that work for me when I’m running low…
# 1 – Go for a walk – This is a really simple thing that always helps me clear away the cobwebs. Just get out of the house and surround yourself with some different sights. I live in rural Georgia, and taking a wander down to the pond in our backyard, sitting on the dock, and just enjoying the weather and being in the moment is great for an inspiration reset. I don’t attempt to think about anything, I just relax and breathe.
I leave my phone off too, unless I’m using it as a camera, to take pictures of my lovely surroundings.
#2 – Listen to music – Turning on Pandora (or Spotify, or the radio… whatever music service you prefer) and listening to a mix of familiar favorites and new songs is a great way to refill the tank. I don’t think about finding music to fit the piece I’m writing, or come up with a playlist. I concentrate on the music for its own sake. And sometimes, I find a new band or singer that really fires my imagination.
Recently, I discovered the song ‘In the Shadows’ by the Finnish rock band The Rasmus. I could easily imagine them on stage at Sang!
#3 – Read – Some authors can’t read while they’re working on a project, because they absorb things from the book and it messes with their process, but when I’m struggling to find my footing in my own worlds, I love escaping into someone else’s. It’s like a brain vacation. And I return to work refreshed.
Some of my recent favorites are Lucy Lennox’s Made Marian series and Jay Northcote’s Housemates Or anything by Nalini Singh, but especially her Guild Hunter series.
#4 – Spend time with loved ones – Writing is a predominantly solitary pursuit, unless you have a co-author. Not to mention that a lot of authors are introverts (like me.) So it’s easy to get a bit locked into our own little worlds. When the words are flowing, that can be great. But when the inspiration meter is running down, it can be incredibly frustrating. Stepping away from the page and engaging with friends and family can often be just the thing to jumpstart you again.
#5 – Do something purposeless – When I’m writing, I tend to take the process very seriously. Which is probably a good thing, since it’s my career of choice. But it can also drain the tank. So when I get really stuck and I’m banging my head on a wall and everything feels dreary, I step back and do something silly, with very little point beyond the enjoyment of the moment. I give myself permission to be aimless for a little while. I color. I play online games with my friends. I take quizzes about which Greek god lives in my soul (Athena) or whether or not I could pass the UK citizenship test (I got 90%).
These may not work for everyone, but they’re a good place to start. One of them should shake something loose if you’re struggling to find words.
Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to be open to finding it. And then, of course, you must act.
Nature made them adversaries, but one glance ignites a lust stronger than the need for blood.
After 200 years, the nightlife has lost its allure for Reese. A leader among his kind, owner of a nightclub that serves as a banquet of nubile flesh and hot blood, he is bored out of his mind.
His heart hasn’t stirred in over a century.
Born to a line of vampire hunters, Will ventures out every day after dark to track down those creatures who have crossed the line from feeding to murder, and destroy them.
All he wants is one night off to drink and dance and maybe get laid.
Too bad it’s not his lucky night. Or maybe it is?
Not even witnessing Will stake one of his brethren is enough to quell the lust that Reese feels from his first glimpse of the gorgeous hunter. And though Will knows how dangerous it could be to take the sensual invitation in Reese’s dark eyes, he can’t resist.
Why fight when they could fuck instead?
The air in the club was warm with bodies. A melange of aromas. According to the state, the maximum capacity was 394 persons, and Reese was willing to bet he had at least that there tonight. Nearly four hundred people, most of them human. Different shampoos, hair products, cosmetics, deodorants, detergents, perfumes.
Cotton. Vinyl. Leather. Wood. Liquor. Sweat. Blood.
Reese pushed all that to the back of his mind. He was still aware of it, but it didn’t overwhelm him.
He watched the mass of bodies writhing and rubbing against each other on the dance floor, the music a low, sensual throb under his skin. People clung and groped and kissed, their passion for each other, their need for touch like another scent in the air.
As much as Sebastián encouraged him to treat the club as a buffet of both bed partners and meals-on-legs, like the rest of the upstairs residents, Reese didn’t feel even the smallest stirring at the sight.
Then, he saw him.
He stood out like a single candle in a dark room. And not just because of his damp, wavy, unnaturally white-blond hair.
His body was compellingly compact. Tight, toned muscle stood out on the arms raised above his head, and his damp t-shirt clung to the smooth planes of his chest and the ridges of his abdomen. From across the room, Reese’s sharp eyes picked out the small, peaked, pink nipples underneath the translucent cloth and the faint line of dark blond hair that disappeared into the low-slung black leather pants, visible where the shirt rode up his belly.
A trickle of sweat slid down the small strip of skin framed by his sharp hipbones. Reese followed it with his eyes, sudden saliva pooling in his mouth.
He dragged his gaze away before it strayed below those swaying hips and lifted it to the man’s face.
The sight that greeted him almost pulled an unwilling moan from his lips. Blondie’s head was thrown back, revealing a long, pale throat. His Adam’s apple bobbed, the motion a beacon for Reese’s eyes. The man’s pulse thrummed in the thick vein on the side of his neck.
Once again, he had to force his eyes away. He lifted them higher and let out a soft breath.The face beneath the shock of blond hair was as exquisite as a Roman statue.
High, cutting cheekbones. Smooth, angled jaw. Strong nose. Full, pink lips curled into a secret smile.
His eyes were closed as he moved his body to the music, each twist and shimmy highlighting some enticing line or angle. When he spun away, Reese’s eyes dropped to the curve of his high, tight ass, framed perfectly in those gleaming black leather pants, and he growled.
Reese’s feet moved instinctively, taking him on a slow, circular path around the dance floor. If Sebastián, or any of the other vampires in their colony, had witnessed his actions at that moment, they would have recognized them for what they were.
As would any human who had ever watched a nature documentary.
He was on the hunt.
Keeping to the periphery, but never losing sight of Blondie, Reese skirted the crowd, sliding in and out of shadows. The band’s singer crooned in a husky voice that spoke of sex and longing and urgency, and though he wasn’t paying any attention to the lyrics, Reese felt that same need crawling over his skin.
Everything else faded away as he side-stepped drunk patrons to keep watching the bump and roll of those narrow hips. Blondie’s thigh muscles flexed in his leather pants, and Reese’s fangs itched to sink into the flesh there.
His mouth tingled as he imagined pulling mouthfuls of hot, sweet blood while he pumped two slick fingers into the tight clench of Blondie’s ass and made the man shake beneath him in ecstasy.
Reese hadn’t felt such lust since… He couldn’t even remember the last time.
He inhaled deeply, trying to catch the man’s scent. There. The trace of oranges mixed with leather, wood, and fresh rain.
He licked his lips.
Blondie’s cheeks were flushed. His mouth parted. His chest rose and fell with rapid breaths. If Reese bit him right now, blood would spurt into his mouth in a burst of bitter salt and iron.
He shuddered, his own blood racing in his veins, heading swiftly south. He wanted to shove the man to the floor right there, four hundred other people be damned, and climb on top of him. Inside him. To lick and bite and fuck him all at once.
As if sensing his intense perusal, Blondie’s eyes slid open. Heavy lidded, the irises burned bright blue, like a gas flame.
He looked right at Reese, his sinful mouth smiling a welcome.
Reese’s heart gave a single, solid THUMP.
About the author
Born in the artists’ community of Woodstock, NY, Morgan Elektra discovered her passion for writing at a young age, penning stories of witches, vampires, and monsters at the dining room table. After years working day jobs and moonlighting as a reviewer for popular genre website Dread Central, Morgan left the comfort of an office to follow her dreams of writing fiction. She spent the early twenty-teens as a freelance ghostwriter of erotica, but has now put aside the masks to write under her own name.
She currently lives near Savannah, GA with her husband, their cat Harlequin, and—if the rumours are to be believed (and she sincerely hopes they are)—an awful lot of ghosts.
Find Morgan online:
Website – https://bymorganelektra.wordpress.com/
Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/MorganElektra
Twitter – www.twitter.com/MorganElektra
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/morgan_elektra/
QueeRomanceInk – https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/morgan-elektra/
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