Inspiration from my Favorite Movies

Writers can find inspiration from anything: books, nature, the people around you. Anything and everything that catches your eye can become a story. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is of course movies. I have trouble sitting down long enough to watch a whole movie and usually spread it out over a couple of days, but I still love the amazing stories that only movies can convey. These are some of my favorite movies and how they inspire my writing:

The Harry Potter Series
I’ll be honest—I’ve only read the books once over many years. Like I have trouble sitting down for a movie I also have trouble reading books longer than 300 pages. But I love how these movies bring this incredible world to life. The Harry Potter series inspires me with its expansive and complex world. Though I don’t plan on writing any fantasy, I love the world building aspects of these movies.

The Chronicles of Narnia
This is another fantasy series that inspires me with its world building, but I’m more inspired with the spiritual references. The symbolism and connection to Christianity that infuses this story makes me want to do the same in my own writing.

The Hunger Games Series
The Hunger Games series is an action-packed dystopia, full of rebellion and satire on reality television, and it has had a huge influence on my writing. While I’ve been a fan of these movies since they came out (and even dragged a friend to see the midnight release of the first one), I did not like the books when I first read them. My book club in high school read the first novel and I didn’t like it very much, and then gave up on the others. I didn’t actually read the whole series until this summer, and am reading Mockingjay right now. I just feel like this series and the essence of the story is so much better conveyed on screen than on the page.

Moana
Disney’s most recent princess (daughter of the village chief) inspires me with how strong she is. One of my main goals with my writing is to create strong female characters that girls can look up to, and Moana does just that. Plus the story is so fun and this movie has some of Disney’s best music.

Inside Out
Inside Out is by far my favorite Pixar movie. Not only is it a great story about emotions and memories, it takes you inside the mind of the main character and personifies the emotions that are hard to talk about in concrete ways. As a writer I found this movie so interesting with this look into someone’s mind.

Ever After
I love this film’s take on the story of Cinderella. Changing up fairy tales is something I enjoy doing, and I have always been inspired by fairy tales. I love how this movie makes Cinderella independent and strong.

Les Misérables
I’ve talked multiple times about how amazing this story is, so I won’t go on again. Check out these links if you want to know more: Getting Re-inspired by Les Misérables and Favorite Book Feature: A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher.

The Truman Show
This is definitely one of my favorite movies. I love how this film looks at reality television, perceptions of reality, and questions of identity. Jim Carrey does an amazing job portraying Truman’s story. This movie inspired one of the very first stories I created, and it continues to have an influence on my work.

Movie Souvenirs
Some books about and souvenirs from some of my favorite movies.

As Cheryl St.John says in her book Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict, watching a movie counts as work as long as you’re taking notes. Movies can have a huge impact on your writing, so try watching all kinds of films to find inspiration. I also love finding inspiration from television shows, with some of my favorites being Once Upon a Time, Jericho, Dollhouse, Firefly, Pushing Daisies, and Battlestar Galactica.

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: The Books Frankie Reads

One of my favorite things about Frankie Worthington, the main character of my novel Somewhere Only We Know, is that she’s a reader.

Like me, her mother instilled a lifelong love of books in Frankie when she was a young girl, taking her to the library often and getting lots of books into her hands. Unlike me though, Frankie didn’t have anyone to actually buy her books and she resorted to stealing them.

When her father gives Frankie her very first book as an apology for hurting her, Frankie can’t believe that she gets to write her name inside the cover and that the book is all hers. Frankie has a deep respect for books and turns to them when her life is too difficult to bear. For Frankie, and for many readers, books are a way of escaping reality and going someplace better. When Frankie is reading, nothing can hurt her.

These are some of the books that Frankie reads that I featured in Somewhere Only We Know. Some of them I read when I was Frankie’s age. Some of them reminded me of Frankie so I chose to include them. And some of the featured books inspired and reflected themes of Somewhere Only We Know.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Frankie’s class is reading The Giver at the start of my book. I chose to include this novel because when Jonas is introduced to books his world is completely changed. This is the very first book that Frankie is given, and it shows her how important books are. The Giver is also a source of inspiration to Frankie when she attempts writing.

Esperanza Rising by Pan Munoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising was one of my favorite books when I was Frankie’s age. I figured she would also enjoy a book about hope.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

I actually read this one in college, but it’s about a thirteen year old girl who lives in a poor neighborhood that’s full of mistreated girls. I knew that Frankie would identify with Esperanza and would enjoy the poetic prose.

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

When the Pevensie children return to Narnia in Prince Caspian, there is the feeling of both going back to someplace familiar and of everything being different. In Somewhere Only We Know, Frankie and her friends return to the tree where they used to play often. Frankie loves being able to return to this place that was once wonderful, but at the same time their lives are completely different now and something about their special place feels really different.

Keeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt

This last book is only mentioned briefly in Somewhere Only We Know, but this book reminds me a lot of mine. In Keeper of the Night, Isabel’s mother has killed herself and she now has to go on, acting brave and taking care of her younger siblings. Isabel reminded me a lot of Susan, and also of Frankie with their mutual love of swimming.

Books Frankie Reads
Some of the books Frankie reads in Somewhere Only We KnowKeeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

Best Reads of 2016 and What I’m Looking Forward to in 2017

Last year was the first full year that I wasn’t a student, and it was wonderful. With the crazy amounts of reading required of an English major, I barely read anything that wasn’t assigned to me during my time at college. I couldn’t wait for the day that my reading list no longer doubled as a class syllabus. Now my reading list is multiple stacks of library books that I’m afraid to put all together in one pile because it will probably be taller than me. I can’t read them fast enough.

My 2016 was full of wonderful reads. I read 64 novels. I didn’t keep track of nonfiction books, but I read a handful of those as well. And I’ve made it one of my goals for 2017 to make even more time to read as I forgot just how much I love it thanks to years of school. Here’s a list of some of my favorite books I read in 2016, as well as a list of books I’m looking forward to reading in early 2017.

Best of 2016:

Looking forward to in 2017:

  • Replica by Lauren Oliver
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
  • The other Starbound books by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  • Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee