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Sources of Inspiration: Seeing What I Want

I just saw a series which is no longer on the air (you can see what it is from the picture). It gave me something I’m always looking for, yearning for in my stories and writing. Intimacy within adversity and conflict, offered up with all the raw power that two enemies find themselves within as they become something more.

I’m not certain if Hannibal is a love story or not. I like the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what it is, the mystery.

This love of mystery in such matters may be one of the reasons I’ve avoided classifying myself as a romance writer. To become one would be commiting myself to the clarity of declaring that this is a love story, of committing myself to a happy ending. It would mean abandoing a sense of mystery about the genre I find compelling, seductive, and paradoxically romantic.

I will never forget the moment when Will met Hannibal’s eyes for the first time. That moment was terrifying and romantic at the same time. It was a nightmare coming true, a very intimate nightmare. The exchanges between the two characters made the series feel like it was both a love story and a tale of terror.

My writing is nowhere near as dark as Hannibal. I doubt it will ever be, yet I crave moments of contradictory intimacy, of beauty within horror. This is why I’m drawn to fairytales. I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with pure horror or pure romance, neatly defined in a nicely boxed genre. I’m drawn to something more like a sunset, a melding of colors and hues drifting in and out of each, mingling with each other. I’ve referred to this effect as genre cocktails and this is what I prefer to sip, something with the elements of horror, romance, fantasy, and perhaps more. They’re what I long to mix myself.

Hannibal didn’t evoke simply a sense of horror or romance. It evoked opera. How easy it is for me to imagine Will gazing at Hannibal with bright eyes, whispering, “Give me the key, Bluebeard, if you love me. Give Jack closure.” There were moments in this series which struck me as being so operatic or surreal, they became expressions of art, enhanced by story and emotion.

How I long to write relationships like this! I need to find my own path, though, which may be a far more sunlit path than the one I’m drawn to, given I’m writing stories about teddy bears and magic. I’d like to bring some of this particular magic to my own stories, though, this intense intimacy within adversity.

How about you, dear reader? Ever experience a moment of clarity about what you wanted while reading or watching a story? Did that clarity change the direction you were pushing your own art into? Or did it simply make you aware of the way you wished to go?

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