As I’ve written before, every author can name specific things they’ve seen, or read, that eventually appeared in one of their stories. One city that has, and will continue to inspire my writing, is Florence Italy.
My first trip to Florence was in 2006, then again in 2012. It is a beautiful city, brimming with history. So much of it has appeared in my Black Raven stories, but the majority is simply atmosphere. However, I did get a few pictures of some of the specific things that have directly influenced my writing.
Lonely Tower: This tower was once part of the city walls and housed the mint. Now it stands alone on a little island in the street. Its imposing walls, and the difficulty I imagine in trying to break into a building that is so out in the open, led me to use similar buildings in both Darclyian Circus, and City Beneath the Kaisers.
Michelangelo: It’s impossible to spend any time in Florence without seeing Michelangelo’s influence. He was so popular in his time, that the Pope more or less forced Michelangelo to work commissions for the church. The idea of an artist held prisoner is what inspired The Gilded Noose.
Locks: On and around the Ponte Vecchio bridge, there are thousands and thousands of padlocks affixed to just about everything. The local legend is that lovers who affix a lock to the bridge, then throw the key into the River Arno, will have good luck. I used these locks in Dämoren.
Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Benvenuto Cellini’s (the guy whose bust is surrounded by locks above) beautiful sculpture captured my imagination when I first saw it in 2006.
I’ve always loved the Perseus myth and used the story in Dämoren. Later, I decided to give the statue a brief cameo in my novel.
Roofs Along Narrow Streets and Alleys: My love of rooftop chases is older than I can remember. I’d already used the idea in The Mist of Lichthafen before I’d ever made it to Europe. Later, when I actually saw how close the rooftops actually were, and the support arches between buildings, I knew that it wasn’t just fantasy. Since then, my heroes have hopped rooftop to rooftop in several stories, most notably, Thieves’ Duel.
Alleys are one of my guilty pleasures. When other tourists are snapping pictures of beautiful churches and great artistic achievements, I’m creeping though the narrow alley across the street. Florence is centuries old. It’s endured wars, plagues, riots, and all kinds of other nastiness. There’s no inch of the city that isn’t history, and for some reason, alleys are where I can really feel it. More than once, my wife has turned around from something beautiful to realize that I’ve ducked off into some side-street to explore.
This alley is exactly one Seth wide
I’ve heard many authors say, “Never stop writing.” That’s great advice. However, you do stop. You go to work, you go out with friends and family, you get sick, you bingewatch Downton Abbey. You might stop for only a few hours or days, but you do stop.
Because life happens, my secondary advice is, “Never stop drawing inspiration.” When you’re not writing, you’re still researching. Maybe not consciously, but you are. Keep that little recorder going in the back of your head. Note smells, sights, and the way things make you feel. Keep them in your mind because once you do return to your writing, you’ll have them waiting for you.
Writing isn’t just sitting in front of a computer, pounding out page after page. Writing is teaching yourself to record the world in ways that can be told to others. You don’t just look at a picture to draw your inspiration. You note the frame, the wall behind the picture, the sounds of the room the picture is in, the hall that led you to it. Being a writer is being able to remember all those little details, the emotions they conjured, and letting your imagination run wild with them.
Never stop drawing inspiration.