Sources of ideas for authors: inspiration from cinema or TV


How many times, while seeing a movie or TV series, have you imagined carrying the characters into another story? I think almost all of us have experienced something like that, especially if we liked a lot that movie or series.
From this desire arises what actually is a literary genre, and also among the most prolific ones, i.e. fan fiction. These are short stories or novels, which draw setting and characters from a movie or a series and use them to tell an original story. The skill of the author of fan fiction is to remain true to the spirit of the story that inspired it, so that readers and fans of the film (or series) recognize it, but at the same time to develop a new plot, which seems a natural continuation. Clearly, such an approach is always very personal, because we tend, however, to make such stories our own and interpret them individually. It is not said therefore that the other fans will appreciate the author's work, but the truth is that writing fan fiction is first and foremost a personal gratification, an extension of our love for a particular character, actor or saga.

As you maybe know, I've written fan fiction in the past. “La morte รจ soltanto il principio” (translated: “Death Is Only The Beginning”, inspired by “The Mummy”) is just one example, the only completed one and then published for free 12 years later. I had, however, already ventured into the genre with a fan fiction of Star Wars written together with other fans between 1998 and 1999, but never finished. I tried to develop other ideas, but then I had run aground. This is because at the end writing about a world created by others has limitations that trap the author's creativity and at the same time make the result of all that work something which you cannot take all the credit of. In a sense, I found it an unsatisfactory experience.

I had come to fan fiction because of my love for cinema, which at first led me to write screenplays. Then I gave up both types of creative writing and years later I gave birth to my first science fiction original novel (“L'isola di Gaia”, i.e. “The Isle of Gaia”, for future publication). I wanted to create a universe of mine, with my rules coming from my personal way of seeing the future, in which moving my characters. Yet this did not make it entirely free from the influence of cinema and TV.
In fact, in everything I've written so far and in other projects to which I will take care of in the future there is always some element, usually an actor and/or a character or even a situation, an image that can be traced back to a movie or a TV series. The connection, however, is by no means obvious, since often refers to the manner in which I have internalized such a film (or series), and is then put upside down as during writing.

And so in “Deserto rosso” (“Red Desert”), believe it or not, there is the influence of the TV series “Caprica” (spin-off/prequel of “Battlestar Galactica”). You'd say, what has that to do with a novel set on Mars? Absolutely nothing. It's just that one of the main characters, Jan De Wit, in my mind is Eric Stoltz (but in a younger version, photo 2), starring in “Caprica”, which I was watching at the time when I wrote the first draft of “Punto di non ritorno” (“Point Of No Return”, the first episode of “Red Desert”). He has crept into the story without that I wanted to and now he is there to be quietly part of it, almost unsuspected. The only similarity with Stoltz is his physical appearance, for the rest there is nothing, but this is enough to define him in a certain way in my mind.

Even in “The Isle of Gaia” is something of “Battlestar Galactica” (you can tell I'm a fan, right?), again in a marginal way. The story has nothing to do with the series, but there is a character who has the body and behaviour of Tricia Helfer (Cylon Number Six, photo 1), in a version revised by my mind (a younger one), while they are diametrically opposed on an emotional level (emotions almost absent in the first one, very passionate the second one).

In November-December, as part of NaNoWriMo2012, I wrote a thriller entitled “Il mentore” (“The Mentor”). The original idea, including the title, appeared in my mind two years ago and was no doubt aided by the fact that in the period from September to November “CSI: NY” is broadcasted on Sky TV in Italy. The result is that the protagonist, Detective Eric Shaw, is a Gary Sinise (photo 3) of ten years ago (what can you do? Actors get older, but in our heads we can rewind time as we please), which clearly refers to Detective Mac Taylor, but in reality has nothing to do with him.

To be honest the good Sinise was also included in “The Isle of Gaia” as Dr. Gabriel Asbury, which has been described by thinking about him. The few people who have read the first draft of the book (two) have certainly not noticed that, because it only exists in my mind.

I have another example, that of the novel “Sangue” (“Blood”; at present it is only a set of notes). It is a gothic science fiction thriller. The basic idea behind it developed from a purely visual glorious fusion between some elements of “Underworld” and a character from the film series on “The Avengers” by Marvel. While the link with the first may seem obvious (but I assure you it is not so), the one with the latter might seem puzzling. Well, I'll explain it: the protagonist of “Blood” (as yet unnamed) looks like Tom Hiddleston (photo 4), that is the actor performing Loki, the evil brother of Thor. The connection is purely visual. When I saw him in a specific shot (only one!), I said to myself: it's him. That's about it.

The beauty of this mechanism is to take from external visual sources (a film, a TV series) elements, which have an important meaning for us because of their ability to move us in a personal way, even if only for a brief moment, and try to channel this emotion to create something completely new, that conveys an original message which can move our readers. Moreover, in doing so, in our mind what we are writing becomes in turn a movie with the best cast we might want, within which we can move actors and characters at will. And, once put on paper, it like as if that movie really exists.
For someone like me, who grew up with a love for cinema, especially from Hollywood, who as a young girl dreamed of working in that field as a director, this mechanism becomes a perfect substitute for that dream, where the only limit is my imagination.