A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl

Mommy, Where Do Stories Come From? The Real World Inspiration Behind Fantasy Realms

October 05, 2020 Megan O'Russell Season 1 Episode 46
A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Mommy, Where Do Stories Come From? The Real World Inspiration Behind Fantasy Realms
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A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Mommy, Where Do Stories Come From? The Real World Inspiration Behind Fantasy Realms
Oct 05, 2020 Season 1 Episode 46
Megan O'Russell

Authors are frequently told, "Write what you know." Ever wonder how that works for fantasy and sci-fi?

In this episode of A Book and A Dream, Megan O'Russell shares how the fantastical elements in one of her series stemmed from a very real, fairly dangerous event.

You can get your copy of book one in The Tale of Bryant Adams, How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin' Days, by visiting https://books2read.com/FourDays

Show Notes Transcript

Authors are frequently told, "Write what you know." Ever wonder how that works for fantasy and sci-fi?

In this episode of A Book and A Dream, Megan O'Russell shares how the fantastical elements in one of her series stemmed from a very real, fairly dangerous event.

You can get your copy of book one in The Tale of Bryant Adams, How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin' Days, by visiting https://books2read.com/FourDays

Megan: [00:00:02] We really want to do this hike. We've heard it's epic, are the trails clear and the park ranger said yes, but the park ranger was a liar.

 

Announcement: [00:00:16] Welcome to A Book and a Dream with Megan O'Russell: an author's adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl.

 

Megan: [00:00:28] Hello, my name is Megan O'Russell and welcome to Episode 46 of A Book and a Dream.

 

Megan: [00:00:35] Lately, I've been getting the question a lot: how do you come up with the ideas for your series? And the honest answer is it's very different depending on the book. It can be anything from, with The Tethering, the idea of this boy who's waiting in a window and what is he waiting for and when is it going to come back? To Girl of Glass, wondering about, you know, in a dystopian environment, what does it look like from the upper one percent who's been chosen to live in luxury? But because the fourth and final book in the Bryant Adams series is due out next month, I wanted to take a moment and tell you the origin story for the tale of Bryant Adams.

 

Megan: [00:01:13] Now, it's going to sound like I'm getting really off topic for a second, but I swear we are going to loop back around now. Several years ago, I was living and working up in Alaska with my husband in Denali National Park. So we were only going to be there for like a month. We've been there four different times, but the first time, we were only there for a very short period of time and it was at the very beginning of the season.

 

Megan: [00:01:35] So in like May, when there's still a lot of snow in Alaska, but I love hiking and I was so scared that there was still going to be snow on the ground when we had to leave. And so I desperately wanted to get as many hikes in as we could, and who cares how bad the weather is? So there was what was supposed to be a seven-and-a-half mile long hike. That was a lie. It was not seven-and-a-half miles long. They even updated the trail signs the next year. But we talked to the Rangers and we were like, hey, we really want to do this hike. We've heard it's epic. Are the trails clear? And the park ranger said yes, but the park ranger was a liar.

 

Megan: [00:02:13] So we get what we think is halfway into the hike, but it's not halfway into the hike because they lied about how long it was, and there's snow like up to our knees. But at this point, we're like, well, we're halfway done, we should just keep going because, you know, home's on the other side of this trek, it was one way. And then we were going to walk the two miles back to town.

 

Megan: [00:02:32] So we're like, well, we...we have to go that way because that's home. So we'll just keep going through the snow.

 

Megan: [00:02:37] But the snow kept going, and the trail kept going because the length of the trail was wrong. And because I have really bad circulation―thanks, autoimmune―I started getting frostbite, so we had to stop our hike and build a little emergency fire on the side of the mountain and warm my feet back up so that I didn't lose any toes. And then I also had to, like, shove my little frozen feet up the back of my husband's coat because he's wonderful and loves me anyway. And that's how you know someone really adores you.

 

Megan: [00:03:05] But anyway, it was like awful. So much snow. And we had to, like, call two of our friends to be like, you know those two miles we were going to walk back home? Yeah. We're not going to make it. Can you pick us up? And then they ended up like hiking out to find us, which was really good, because otherwise we would have fallen in a frozen river. But the frozen river doesn't have much to do with Bryant Adams.

 

Megan: [00:03:25] So it was like this very sort of traumatic adventure. It ended in pizza and beer, though, so it was like, fine. So fast forward to the next year. We're back in Alaska. We're doing the hike again and we find the remnants of our emergency fire.

 

Megan: [00:03:44] Now, we were there for like five months that summer, so as the vegetation grew, we eventually lost where our emergency fire had been and we'd be hiking. We'd be like, was it there? I think it was there. Was it there? I don't know. The trail seemed a lot longer when it was covered in two feet of snow because park rangers are liars. Totally different story, though, keeping with the fire thing.

 

Megan: [00:04:05] And so it sort of became this running theme of like, going out on the trail, hope we don't have to build an emergency fire. And one of those times we were hiking and we were like, you know, building an emergency fire is fine, you know, you hike with matches, you got to be safe. It's Alaska. But wouldn't it be easier if there was an app on your cell phone where you could just, like, start a fire? Because cell phones have compass apps, there should be a fire app. And it was like, well, yeah, but that's not a thing. Your phone can't actually do that...it's a phone. But what if it could?

 

Megan: [00:04:36] And so we spent the next 9.6 Miles, because that's how long the trail is, not 7.5, which is a big difference, we spent the rest of the time wondering, like, what other really cool things could a phone do? What would you pack into a phone?

 

Megan: [00:04:51] And so it sort of became this idea of if you had a cell phone that could do anything, what would it do and how would you work that into a story? Which is how we came up with the magical cell phone library that is at the heart of Bryant Adams. And in figuring that out, it was very cool because now that we're like, OK, you're going to have an iPhone that can do magical things, although the book never says iPhone because, you know, branding. What else can you put into that story? Because if you're putting that at the heart of the premise, then you kind of have to accept the absurd. You sort of have to be like, yeah, we're...we're doing this. This is...this is where we're going. And we're just...just go with me, because everything is allowed at this point.

 

Megan: [00:05:38] And so that's what made writing Bryant Adams so fun for me, because from the beginning, you can accept the absurd so you can decide you're going to have a theme restaurant that has a floor that combines Star Wars and Star Trek in a weird, nondescript way so that you don't get in trouble with any Disney corporations or Gene Roddenberry or whatever. You can do that because it is all absurd and because I chose to write it in the first person. Bryant's stream of consciousness is very like mine. Like, if you want to know what the inside of my brain looks like, just read Bryant Adams. It's all there.

 

Megan: [00:06:16] And so that, that is where he came from. Was, well, we might as well accept the absurd, which came out of a kind of scary hike with frostbite and possible drowning in a frozen river. But that is Bryant Adams's origin story. Now, the fourth and final book is due out in a month, which is both terrifying and amazing because it's great to have the series finished that readers can have The Complete Tale of Bryant Adams. But it's also really sad to let him go because, you know, he is so much like my inner monologue. It is so fun to write him because it is so freeing. And I can, you know, mention the fact that the technical term for a group of cats is a clowder. Crowder What other series could you work that into? When else can you have that many musical theater references and have it absolutely make sense? When else can you say "stinky cat ass" and have people not be like "this is literary hackery," but it works for Bryant, so I'm really going to miss playing in his world.

 

Megan: [00:07:19] I am very grateful that he came out of the disastrous hike, along with all my toe is still attached to my feet, and I am very much looking forward to sharing his final story with all of you.

 

Megan: [00:07:35] So, uh, if you haven't read Bryant Adams yet, the e-book is available on all wide platforms. It is also available in paperback. So check that out. You can ask for it to be ordered at your local bookstore or ask your librarian to get you an e-book copy that you can borrow from the library. Yeah.

 

Megan: [00:07:50] So cheers to Bryan to Adams and his many wacky and absurd magical adventures. And until next time, have a great week.