Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Author Macye Lavinder Maher On Finding Inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come to us like a lightning bolt, through the lyrics of a song, or in the fog of a dream. Ask writers where their stories come from and you’ll get a myriad of answers. In that vein I created the WHAT (What the Hell Are you Thinking?) interview. Always including in the WHAT is one random question to really dig down into the interviewees mind, and probably supply some illumination into my own as well.

Today's guest for the WHAT is Macye Lavinder Maher, author of Fireworks & Fertility. Macye divides her time between writing fiction and managing Live Water Properties, a brokerage firm specialized in hunting, ranching, fly fishing, and conservation properties in the Rocky Mountain West and Pacific Northwest. A member of the board of the Jackson Hole Writer’s Conference, she holds a Bachelor’s of Science from the McIntere School of Commerce at the University of Virginia where she also earned a minor in Environmental Science.  She lives in Jackson, WY with her husband and three children.

Ideas for our books can come from just about anywhere, and sometimes even we can’t pinpoint exactly how or why. Did you have a specific origin point for your book? 

I believe a lot of well-written works of fiction are conceived as an essay or short story. Mine was birthed at the Dave Matthews Band Concert in Chicago…eons ago. Good vibes, good birth.

Once the original concept existed, how did you build a plot around it?

I wanted this scene at the concert to be the beginning of Fireworks and Fertility, but it was moved to the middle on the rewrite/edit. Apparently major action is needed to engage readers!

Have you ever had the plot firmly in place, only to find it changing as the story moved from your mind to paper?

My mind transfers the thoughts pretty efficiently to the page. I make sure to eat well beforehand, so that indecision is in another building.

Do story ideas come to you often, or is fresh material hard to come by?

Fresh material is everywhere from the guy carrying the ladder to fix something in your office to the latest story on what it takes to get pregnant when you are in your thirties. The world is quirky. That’s the best fodder for a story idea.

How do you choose which story to write next, if you’ve got more than one percolating?

If I have more than one idea or inspiration, I make little notes that I cut into triangles that then form a pile or pyramid of triangles on my desk. I never forget about those lovely triangles. 

2016 was not an easy year. Do you draw any inspiration from the world around you, or do you use writing as pure escapism?

Struggles and triumphs are long processes; they’re journeys. Losing my 98-year-old Grandfather, Roy C. Kinsey, Jr., was traumatic for me. I wanted him to live forever. He left a lasting star—the famous neon star on Mill Mountain in my hometown (Roanoke, VA). He shines brightly and reminds me that you have to do it for you. He created that star. So many people told him it was foolish, it wasn’t worth it, and he and his brothers conquered it anyway. I feel like there is this amazing connection between the souls on this side and the ones on the other. The proof for me is in that gigantic star so I dedicated the book to Roy C. Kinsey Jr. and my family, who also appreciates five points on a Blue Ridge Mountain.

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