Many artists, writers, poets and musicians have said that their creative work has been inspired by an individual whom they refer to as their muse. A muse is someone who has such an influence on another that he or she becomes the focus and inspiration for that person's creative work. The term has historically been used by men to describe the women that they have been in love with and made the subject of their work.
The word muse originates from Greek mythology. The Greek gods Zeus and Mnemosyne had nine daughters called the Muses. The nine daughters were of one being in heart, spirit and thought. If the muses loved a man, then the man's worries instantly disappeared. The man who was loved by the muses was considered to be more sacred than a holy man.
Now, I don’t love all my muses, but I definitely appreciate how they help my pages come to life…
There is something absolutely amazing about finding a muse for one of my interracial romance adventures. Sometimes I search them out and sometimes, they simply find me. But there is one thing that is for sure. I must have inspiration. So, I must have an inventory of men in every shape, every size, every profession, every way possible.
The human mind is a great thing. It can come up with the most exciting stories, but it must first be fueled. I won’t dare compare myself to Michelangelo or Maya Angelou. What I will say is that I understand that in order to do anything great, an artist must have a creative spirit.
Consequently, every time that I want to write I have to go shopping, or at least, that’s what I call it. Shopping is when you go out into the public and simply look for random men with endearing qualities that women can appreciate and use that to create a great storyline. It’s a hard job yes, but someone has to do it.
Happily married, the only joy that I get from meeting a very hot man is that I can possibly use him in the future for a romantic tale. So I memorize the most delicious parts of him and combine him with the most delicious parts of another wonderful looking man that I’ve met and like baking the perfect cake…Voila, dinner is served. My only hope is that the readers eat him up.
However, my characters hardly ever are inspired by one particular man. Most of the time, they are a combination of lawyers, cops, chefs, professors, doormen…you name it. Occasionally, I’ll find a man capable of giving me complete inspiration. But those are few and far in between.
Nicola Agosto from Ivy’s Twisted Vine (2008) was inspired by an Italian-American cop. Dmitry Medlov (2010) was inspired by a Jewish-American millionaire and Anatoly was inspired by a young man at a pub who had great genetics and a wonderful Russian accent. However, the little idiosyncrasies from many men are the true details that make me giddy. It might be the way that the yoga instructor runs his hands through his hair all the time, or the way that the financial consultant sucks his bottom lip when he’s explaining how our investments are growing or how the bartender winks every time he passes me a new drink. But they all serve as flawless inspiration.
The great part of searching out a new man is that I’m able to truly to see the beauty in all of God’s male children. The bad part of shopping is that sometimes, people think that I’m a super stalker.
Now, the funny part.
Men are often looked at as stalkers or strange, but women hardly ever get tagged with the title. However, I have been known to sit in the corner of a bar and document everything worthy of using later. Being a writer requires you to also be an observer. So, I carry around a notepad all the time. And when a man catches you eyeing him, he automatically assumes that you’re interested. If I had a penny for every time that I had to explain that I was not trying to flirt with “him” but rather capture essence for a book, I’d be rich. But it’s true. I just want to catch a glimpse and use it later for a story that sings.
I was at grocery store the other day and a man walked past me who was holding his daughter’s hand. It was the way that he held her hand that mesmerized me. His large hand completely covered hers. And he seemed hopelessly devoted to his task of escorting the most important person in his life. You could tell that she was his little treasure. He was ever so careful, ever so loving. It was the kind of thing that you only recognize if you have been the recipient of that kind of care. I found myself staring, admiring the two as they passed me. I forgot all about my own groceries and stood in the isle way like a freak. He even turned back and looked at me, probably wondering what I was doing. But in him, I saw something beautiful. The act was inspiring not the coke bottle glasses or his unsightly bald spot, just the way that he held her hand.
As an interracial romance author, I have to think outside of the box. There is such a colorful rainbow to choose from. The Irish, Scottish, British, Russian, Australian, Brazilian, the Asian and Cuban and so many more. They all give me inspiration. I love to couple them with the beautiful black women that I also go shopping for to combine to make authentic couples worthy of putting on a page.
I’m currently writing Gracie’s Dirty Little Secret, the second book of The Lonely Hearts Series, and I’ve found myself recycling my Jewish friend. However, a great deal of his mannerisms come from a German saxophonist that I met and a Swedish newspaper reporter. We want even talk about how much I get from my super inspiration, my husband, Adam.
What continues to surprise me is the endless black female muses that I have collected. Their beauty amazes me also. There are so many types of strikingly gorgeous black women with so many styles. While Hollywood seems to only want to portray a small segment of us, I find that there are so many types of black women to write about until my notepads are full. Eye shape, color, smile, laugh, profession, grace. It baffles me at times.
In looking for a muse, the one thing that I have learned is that God’s beauty is great and as a writer, I get to actually appreciate it on a daily basis. He has created us all in such magnificent ways, and we all are so different – so worthy of our story. When I combine the cultures in my romance novels, I find myself overjoyed by the idea of love breaking through boundaries. Such a pity that more people don’t appreciate two people finding love regardless of their background.
I think I’ll always write interracial romance novels, because it’s my little contribution to the acceptance of the human race as a whole. It plagues me why we make walls for ourselves. Living in this world with all these beautiful people is a gift in itself. You combine with it all the beautiful places and you have an endless romantic novel.
However, don’t get me wrong, there is so much beauty in black love. And there are so many authors out there who do a wonderful job of writing them also. I just think we all need a voice. We all need an author to capture the beauty in daddies holding their daughters’ hands. We all need someone to see how beautiful we all are. We all need a romance novel.
Who is your muse? In what you do, you need inspiration. And if you look around, there is plenty of it in this world.
Latrivia S. Nelson
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
In Love & Trust was a book that really took JandJ to literary places we hadn't intended on journeying. Originally, it was supposed to be a short book of 20K words but along the way, characters needed fleshing out, scenes needed extending, and individuals needed to be healed/redeemed/brought to justice. In the end, we were changed as much as the characters and plot was changed.
Our stories are never as nice and neat as we'd like them...but we're discovering that that's okay. We don't put the pen down until we hear the double sigh (one from Jeanie; one from myself). Though we invented the characters and the context...we don't invent the realities that individuals suffer through/triumph over. Therefore, we cannot help but be moved. Hopefully, you are as moved as we are.
Give it a read and let us know how you feel about this one.
THE CROSS ROADS BOX SET A smorgasbord of genres, heroes, and heroines Brought to you from the pens of: Afton Locke Aliyah ...