As a reader, I love hearing about the inspiration behind stories.
Years ago, while travelling, I picked up Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes, and was enthralled with the appendix, where he detailed his sources of inspiration for each story in the collection.
And having just sold my story ‘The Banksia Boys’ to Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (Issue #66, if you’re interested), I thought I’d share my inspiration.
The original spark came while listening to snippets from a musical adaptation of May Gibbs’s Snugglepot and Cuddlepie — the musical, by John Clarke and Doug MacLeod, was actually a political satire.
The song in question was about the villains of the book, the Banksia Men.
I can’t remember the lyrics or the melody, or even which Australian political personalities the song was satirising, but the image of a man who resembled a burnt Banksia cone came alive in my mind.
The story’s protagonist, Henry Evans, had been kicking around in my brainstorming folder for a while, failing to find a permanent home.
I had, in various iterations, burdened him with learning difficulties and with disabilities — both congenital and acquired — but none seemed to suit him in this context.
After tweaking him once more as simply a victim of bullying, I found my character arc.
The story takes place, for the most part, in the Australian bush.
I grew up south of Sydney, Australia, on the edge of the Royal National Park — Australia’s first, and the world’s second oldest, national park.
The waterfall in the story is a very real place that I visited frequently as a kid.
Henry’s tree, however, is wholly imagined.
In a way, the setting of ‘The Banksia Boys’ is an homage to the bushland I so often recall with fondness.
Music always plays a major part in my writing — providing inspiration, getting me in the right head space, background white-noise when I need to knuckle under.
For most stories, I develop a playlist: made up of songs with lyrical cues, sounds that suit the mood of the piece or just tunes that I can’t get out of my head at the time.