Inspiration – From Where?

Where do you get your inspiration from? For art or writing, or role-playing, or any other creative outlet really, there has to be something to inspire you to create. So what is it?

For me it’s many sources. I’ll focus on the Thaumatology books here, but I’ve written fiction in other genres which came from other places. I like mixing genres, especially with something like superhero fiction which is heavily influenced by both sci-fi and fantasy.

I’ve been fascinated by magic, the systems and mechanisms of magic, since I was a kid. I created rule systems for fantasy role-playing games, I read books on various different forms of magic. I don’t believe any of it, but it’s a fascinating subject. The first book I ever wrote was a fantasy (and no one will ever read it, it’s terrible, but I was a teenager). Urban fantasy did not really exist back then and I turned more to sci-fi. The first thing I remember seeing which had that mix of fantasy and the modern-day was a game, Mage: The Ascension, where “magic” was the ability to manipulate reality by will alone and “technology” was a form of magic which the general public had bought into so just about anyone could do it. (It’s a nice concept, but it starts to break down if you look too closely.) At around that time, David Eddings’ books were giving us “The Will and the Word,” another reality manipulating magic. Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea books feature magic which manipulates the world through language. This kind of relatively detailed, internally consistent magic system is a big influence on the magic in the Thaumatology series. What I wanted to do was write a story about people doing fantastic things, sure, but also about people trying to work out how magic worked; applying science to magic, that’s what my stories are about.

Which brings us to the other influence on these tales: Wikipedia and the Discovery channel. More specifically, quantum physics, string theory, M-theory, the Standard Model of particle physics… The list goes on. Try looking some of this stuff up. It reads like a fantasy novel combined with badly translated VCR instructions! Reality is a fascinating place and it seems like the more we understand it, the less we know about it.

Null thaumatons, the particle Ceri sets out to discover in Thaumatology 101, are based upon gravitons. Gravitons are the force particles responsible for gravity (if they exist). They are hard to find because they don’t interact with our world much. That’s why gravity is a comparatively weak force compared to the other forces, like electromagnetism. Gravitons are supposed to be closed-loop strings, and that’s what null thaumatons are too. My science would likely make a particle physicist weep, but this is fantasy not a scientific paper. Take a load of science, add a fantastic twist, and out comes the science of magic. There’s more to come in the next book; Ceri’s world has a magical equivalent of the Higgs boson…

So that’s where my inspiration comes from. What about yours?


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