After a long career writing non-fiction, journalism, and film criticism (the latter of which I still do), I started to have some luck writing fiction. One of the mysteries that continues to fascinate me is the spark that inspires the creation of a resulting story. It can be all sorts of things. In the case of my latest novel, Father of the Bride of Frankenstein, it was a coming up with that mash-up of a title and deciding it was so good I had to write a story to go with it. Sometimes, it’s things in my life. In my first short story for Transmundane Press, “Witch v. Hansel, Gretel, et. al.” (which appeared in After the Happily Ever After), it was using my knowledge from my relatively brief career as a lawyer in writing the decision in that case. Often, it’s coming across a call for submissions for an anthology where something about the theme generates an idea.
In the case of my story for In the Air, “Stormy Weather,” it seems to have been a combination of all three. I had written a story that I think would have been an ideal for the collection, but it had appeared on a website and the editors were strict about using only original material. So, I had to come up with something new. As a divorced man who didn’t think I’d be “dating” at this point in my life, I have plenty of material about the pitfalls of that experience. That gave me the premise of a guy who meets a woman named “Breezy” through an online dating site, who turns out to have an unusual connection to the weather.
At one point in my life I did a column covering local television in Boston, and over a period of several years got to meet many of the local meteorologists. As another author said to me, writers are like magpies. We pick up all sorts of stray things not quite knowing how we’ll end up using them. In this case having met a number of TV forecasters I found what they had in common was a genuine enthusiasm for all things meteorological. In the story, I pushed it a bit further by making Breezy something I called a “weather spirit,” who can do more than merely make forecasts.
Once I started writing, the real mystery of inspiration took place. I hadn’t set out with a particular ending in mind, but as I was heading towards the story’s conclusion the characters seemed to have decided for me. While my fiction is intended to be humorous – and I hope there are laughs there – the story took a turn I wasn’t quite expecting. When I wrote the last few lines, it seemed very different from my usual story, yet it also felt right.
I remain fascinated by the sources of inspiration. In fact, I have a story on that very subject. Maybe Transmundane can make that the theme for a future anthology.
Veteran film critic Daniel M. Kimmel is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award, presented by the New England Science Fiction Association, and is the author of Hugo finalist Jar Jar Binks Must Die, a collection of essays on SF movies. His short stories and novels are marked by his twisted sense of humor. His most recent book is Father of the Bride of Frankenstein combining two popular subjects: weddings and reanimated corpses.