Whenever I give readings, the first question I am always asked is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” I think this is a wonderful question, and when I interview artists across all mediums, for the various magazine articles I write, I always ask them the very same thing. The truth is, at least to me, and to those many artists I’ve questioned, is that inspiration comes in so many ways—some very simple, some more complex and obtuse—and that what ‘does it’ for one, doesn’t necessarily ‘do it’ for all.
Inspiration can come to us through travel, through a newspaper article, via a particularly intriguing conversation, or even through sitting in the yard, watching the sun go down. To me, the individual’s ability to uniquely filter these experiences, and filter them into something beautiful, rich, something only their imagination can run wild with, and turning that into a living, breathing work of fiction, a painting, or even a piece of furniture, is truly magic.
So, here I reveal some of the inspirations behind my own books. I’d love to hear about what inspires you. I’d like to start in the most general sense, with music. I listen to music constantly, especially while I work. As a matter of fact, if I don’t have headphones with me, I’ll probably turn right back around, go home, and grab them before I can even get a word out. So, what songs inspire me? Well, I go through phases. I have found something quite fascinating: the cadence and rhythm of my sentences is actually affected by the “phases” I go through with different music. Some of the performers I constantly come back to are: Counting Crows, Bruce Springsteen, and Hole. More recently, I have really been “vibing” on new musical discoveries—my favorite way to do this is to get recommendations from people I really enjoy spending time with. This way, I also have a little of that person’s essence in mind when I am listening to the music, and the magic of creation is taking place. Here are some of those recommendations: Aimee Mann, Jack Johnson, and Samantha Phillips. I am particularly interested in seeing the affect that my recent “discovery” of country music has on my efforts: I am currently in love with Kenny Chesney and Pat Green.
On a more specific note, my first book, which was a guidebook, featuring some short fiction pieces, The Girl’s Guide to New York Nightlife, was inspired by exactly that. I had just left my corporate job behind for a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants opportunity to apprentice with a freelance journalist and travel writer, and I was, for the very first time, enjoying all the glamorous city experiences I, as a very un-fancy girl from Queens, NY, had only ever seen in the movies, or the pages of Vogue. Here I was, in the first row of a fashion show in Manhattan, feeling so completely in awe, I’m surprised no one reached over to pick my jaw up from the floor. I saw celebrities, every single important editor in the world, and all of a sudden, the lights went down, this fabulous, energetic, pulsing music came on, and the models began to strut down the runway. I was completely, utterly entranced. The energy, the creativity, the unique vision, executed to such perfection, was such a thing of wonder to me, that I left this show, hopped on the subway, and could think nothing but, “I am going to make my dreams come true.”: I had always wanted to write a book, and so I tried to think of a useful kind of book that nobody else had written before. Now, in NY, where there are so many niches, niches within niches even, there are so many opportunities for creativity in this area, it’s not even funny. Before I had emerged up into the street, I had the idea for the book. I wrote the pitch letter while I was having my hair colored, and a week later, I had a book deal!
My first novel, Diary of a Working Girl, was actually my second novel, following my “still in the drawer, and better off there” novel, that will never see the light of day (I will put this in my will). The idea for Diary came to me on a lonely Valentine’s Day (I despise this holiday, by the way! Sorry to any fans of it!)…when I was with a few single girlfriends at the lamest bar opening party I have ever attended. I was now on my own as a freelancer, and barely making the rent! I once had the electric company coming to shut off my electricity! No kidding! And to make matters worse, I was covering fashion and beauty, and therefore meeting no single men whatsoever. So I came up with a funny idea, and said to my friend, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I tried to get a job in finance, just to get some money and meet some men?” It would’ve been a great idea, but instead of doing it, I made Lane Silverman do it, and the rest is fiction history. This book is being optioned with an eye toward making into a film for television! Very exciting news.
Fear of Driving was inspired by my adventures moving to the countryside of Connecticut. Princess of Park Avenue was inspired by friends of mine who were such strong women, and yet so vulnerable when it came to certain men who will remain nameless, and by the fantastic talent I have witnessed in NYC’s best beauty parlors. Now talk about talent! Like fashion, the fruits of the art of beauty are actually so personal to the client, have such an impact on their everyday lives—this really blows my mind. Also, my entire family is from Brooklyn, and I lived there after college and thought it was such a thoroughly unique region, with so many fascinating cultural attributes, that I wanted to share it with the world. The Velvet Rope Diaries was inspired by the death of my father at an early age, and the crazy hoops us fatherless girls have to run through to make our way through life with courage and strength—a topic that never ceases to amaze me.
So, let’s hear it ladies—what inspires you? Need any tips on turning your inspiration into a plotline for a novel? Now, THIS part is where the really hard work comes in…