Inspiration comes from my favourite authors, my love of fairytales and I adore the Shrek films. I love the way that being an ogre and ugly doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the bad guy. I read reasonably widely and love history though I am conscious I should read even more widely. I fit in reading of professional magazines like Writers’ News and certain non-fiction books, which may help with my novels, as part of my writing routine.
I wanted to write a story about a mother with a past, a past nobody could guess at. I like the idea of a fairy godmother defecting due to earth due to falling in love and being fed up with magical power abuses by her own cousin. A character like Eileen who is prepared to break the rules, has no problem with hypocrisy and can whip out her wand and do something very nasty with it when the need arises is great fun to write about. To begin with all I need was she was as awkward as they come - and awkward characters drop themselves in it, can trigger the tension that fuels any story. Her weakness is the daughter she should never have had - the one being she will not zap. I hope later to show Jenny’s magical skills developing and Eileen feeling a bit jealous and how she comes to terms with that. After all as Pam Ayres so rightly states nobody likes a fairy when she’s 40 - or in Eileen’s case is as old as the hills and is aware Jenny could be the young replacement the Kingdom could well be looking for. Nobody likes redundancy after all!
Characters should strike sparks off each other, else no story, but those sparks should be realistic and believable. Track records can be dropped into your story, a bit here, a bit there, which increases tension. I’ve done this with Brankaresh and Eileen. I’ve deliberately not had “one big argument scene” but hints here Eileen’s caught Brankaresh out with bad magical practice, hints there he resents her for it and so on. Don’t dump information, drip feed it. The former will slow your story up, the latter builds it. With L’Evallier I’ve hinted at his noble background, so his formal style of speech comes as no surprise. I’ve not gone into details about his posh schooling or anything like that. Think brush strokes rather than laying it all on with a trowel.