Tuesday, May 17, 2016

(My guest today is Carol Crigger, author of the wonderful China Bohannon Western series and other novels in a variety of genre. Welcome, Carol. The floor is yours.)

“What inspires you to write? “This is often the second question I’m asked when I speak about my writing. The first is  usually “Where do you get your ideas?” Third asks “What is your process?”

All three questions, as you might guess, have multiple answers, but today inspiration is on my mind. With me, music is often a flash point. So here, in no particular order, are some of my thoughts on the subject..

Writers say in order to write, you need to sit your butt down in front of the computer and peck away. And that’s true. It just isn’t necessarily the whole story. Inspiration is a funny thing, you see. I’m pretty sure what catches the imagination of one person may well leave another cold.

For instance, I couldnt write a song if my life depended on it. It takes more than a couple dozen words for me to tell a story. How do lyricists, or poetsand the two are often one and the samedo it, anyway? How do they put together words that can take over your mind and, even years later, put you right in the middle of a memoryor a storyjust by hearing a few bars of the song. They are a special kind of writer, for sure.

Truly though, sometimes it’s the singer who makes the rhyme. Listen to Adele! She can bend words to fit like nobody’s business, and in the most heartfelt way possible. It makes me laugh.

It’s funny how a tune can get in your mind. Earworms, right? Only for this purpose, it’s not quite the same thing. You don’t need to know all the lyrics of the song. All you need hear is one certain phrase and it’ll catch you up and form a whole story in a matter of seconds. Or a whole book. Isn’t that amazing? From just a few simple words and a tune?

I don’t rely on music as much as I used to. I guess I’ve gotten more businesslike over the years. But more than twenty years later the song Lightning Crashes by the band Live, puts me right into a science fiction story I wrote that featured a child bitten by a spider. The bite morphed her into a monster, even though she fought the venom.  The story never  got published, but I still like it. Maybe I should find the CD and listen again as I try for a rewrite.

Counting Crows has helped along a couple of my books, including the first book of my Gunsmith Series, In the Service of the Queen, which got the title from the song. Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty account for more than one of my books, as well. Natalie Marchant helped with another, and . . .well, you see what I mean. All it takes is a few words put together in just the right way.

A lot of people say they listen to classical music as they write. A different kind of inspiration, I’m sure. Some prefer jazz, or maybe even opera. As for me, I need only to hear the part of the song that grabs me. Once properly inspired, I turn the music off. I like silence when I write, when I can hear my own words telling the story, and my characters talking to each other.

BIO: Imbued with an abiding love of western traditions and wide-open spaces, Ms. Crigger writes of free-spirited people who break from their standard roles. In her books, whether westerns, mysteries, or fantasy, the locales are real places. All of her books are set the Inland Northwest. Her short story, Aldy Neal’s Ghost, was a 2007 Spur finalist.  Her western novel, Black Crossing, won the 2008 Eppie. Letter of the Law was a 2009 Spur finalist in the audio category. Four Furlongs is her latest release.


  1. I like writing to music but usually require silence (rarely get that!). Classical or solid gold oldies from the 50s and 60s are my favorites. Thanks for posting, Carol.

  2. Thanks for writing, Maggie. Love hearing about other writer's methods.

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