Fiction & Drama

Ella Harper: How I find inspiration


People often ask me how I find inspiration to write my novels and I find it a fairly tricky question to answer. This is because I find inspiration from all sorts of random places and often it can be a tiny thing that sets my mind on fire and I go off at a tangent, thinking about how I can develop the idea and work it into a novel.

Most of my inspiration comes from my deep fascination with people. With their lives, relationships, friendships, jobs and social lives. I think if I wasn’t a writer (and a Pilates instructor), I would most likely be a therapist as one of the things I love doing is talking to people and getting the down-low on their lives. I eavesdrop shamelessly in cafes and shops and restaurants and by the time I have left, I will often have developed an entire back story for the couple sitting at the table next to me. Or the lady in front of me in the shopping queue.

I will strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger and they will end up telling me their life story. I will sit and listen, enthralled, because it has made my mind shoot off at a tangent and I want to get home and write about it.

It might be a small thing that was mentioned that caught my attention and that’s the thing that has set off my creativity. People watching is one of my favourite passtimes.

Aside from being nosy, inspiration will come to me in many other ways: from reading authors from the same genre as me and also from different genres. Again, it might be some small detail in a novel that makes me question where something could go and if it’s an issue I’m interested in, it makes me want to explore it further. Watching films or reading magazines will often cause something to spark in my mind and that will make me want to research it and push it to another level. As in, I often ask myself the question: What would I do if that happened to me? How would I act? Would I be upset or angry? Could I forgive that if that was my relationship?

In If I Fall, I was able to explore four sets of issues with four different characters and then link them together, which I loved. All of the issues were challenging to me – secrets and lies, difficult lives and I actually found some of it hard to write. But that’s the best thing about being a writer; challenging yourself and pushing yourself into uncomfortable territory.

And here’s the final place I find inspiration: looking at my own novels lined up on the book shelf! That might sound weird, but writers often doubt themselves and sometimes, I pick up one of my own novels and have a read of it. Remind myself of what I’ve achieved. And then I start writing again.

By Ella Harper

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