Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guest Post: Sybil Nelson

Inspiration is Everywhere

Once people read my wacky story Priscilla the Great, one of the most popular questions I get is “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Well, ideas are the easy part. I truly believe that inspiration is everywhere. I taught high school for 9 years and my students provided me plenty of ideas. I often didn’t have time to write down everything I wanted to. Sometimes my students would make a special trip to my office to share with me something funny that happened to them. I was never without my notebook and anytime I saw or heard something that I could use in a book, I’d take a second to jot it down.

I find that people are kind of confused about me when they find out that I was a math teacher and that I’m currently getting my PhD in Biostatistics. They wonder how in the world math relates to children’s literature. And once again I say, inspiration is everywhere. In November of 2009, I was at a math conference called Cha-Cha days. (Don’t be deceived. There was no dancing involved.) From nine in the morning to ten at night, mathematicians from the South Eastern region of the United States presented their current research. (Myself included. My presentation was on the Dynamics of Nearly Circular Vortex Filaments.) Anyway, through the course of the day, I not only listened to these presentations from a mathematical standpoint but from a literary one. More than once I found myself taking notes on how I could take someone’s idea and turn it into a plot for my Priscilla the Great series.

For example, during a talk by Dr. Demetrios Christodoulides of the University of Central Florida about Optical Airy beams and bullets, I worked out what was at the time going to be book 3 of the Priscilla the Great series. (At this point, I’ve had so many ideas for the series that now it is going to be book five) What are Airy beams? I’m glad you asked. Basically, they are self-regenerative beams of light that bend on their own depending on factors of diffraction and dispersion. At this point in the research, they can shoot a beam of light or a bullet of light and have it bend around an object. Of course, they can only do this at the nano level right now, but imagine the implications if they can replicate this on a larger scale. Imagine a bullet that could bend it’s trajectory at will after it’s been shot. I took the research a step further and decided to make it a bullet that could bend time and thus came Priscilla the Great Book 5: The Time Travelling Bullet.

So what’s the moral of this story? That I am a complete nerd? Well, yes, but also that inspiration is everywhere. What do you love? What motivates you? I bet your passion would make a great plot. Inspiration is everywhere.

Be sure to check out the Priscilla the Great website and add this book to your Goodreads. You can read Sybil Nelson’s blog here. Be sure to check back for the Priscilla the Great book review, here at Aine's Realm this week.


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