Five Places to Find Inspiration as a Crime Writer.
It happens to the best of us, regardless of how creative, crazy or fucked up we might be. There comes a time when we are out of twists and turns to carry our novels forward. When these things occur, I turn to real life for inspiration. Sometimes there’s nothing like witnessing an unlikely event to spark an entire train of thought and, thus, a bunch of new chapters towards completing yet another novel. Here are five places where I find inspiration for my stories.
1 – The local Diner.
A lot of people, I guess, would rather go to a bar or a pub, but the truth is that music in bars is often too loud to make out what is really going on around you. As for pubs, well I don’t drink, so I would be that weird dude who orders pomegranate-perrier all night. I don’t know! So I turn to the local diner, especially on the lunch hour and in working class neighbourhoods. It is where I find the most true-to-life inspiration for dialogues. And you never know what you’ll stumble upon: disgruntled delivery men, factory workers who complain about everything and anything, and that rare occurrence when you manage to strike a conversation with the waitress or the cook and he/she reveals to you all the secrets of the neighbourhood.
2 – Public transportation.
It’s not that I don’t like my car, but my daily commute is much better served by the local public transportation that by the ugly, ugly grid lock here in Montreal. It has its disadvantages, like being crammed into a tin box with (at least) 85 other people, sweating onto one another (yet even that sparked a poem in me titled “The Old Foe and the Cadillac”). It also has its advantages when it comes to finding new characters. Because let’s be honest. If you are stuck in your car, in traffic, the only things you’ll have to inspire yourself is your hatred for traffic, the hatred of people around you, and the god damned radio. I don’t think that’s hardly any good material for stories or novels. Not for me anyways. I’m not saying I find inspiration every single day in the bus, but there are these moments when you stumble upon an interesting person, a good (or horrible) conversation and so on. In the end it’s about creating opportunities to meet such characters. It’s all about rubbing shoulders with the world more often.
3 – The Red Light District.
The Montreal red light has been dying for the last eight years or so and since I’ve been hanging, studying or working in the heart of that neighbourhood for something like twelve or thirteen years, I’ve seen what it used to be like. I see the changes, and although I have to admit that most of it is positive for the city, it will take away a great source of inspiration for my stories. Since crime is at an all time low in the city, the remaining streets of the Red Light are this rare place where you can stumble upon odd situations, strange characters, drug trade, drunken students and the occasional brawl. Even though I’m way to fuckin’ old to take part in any of it anymore (and I never really took drugs anyways) I still enjoy standing in the distance and watching life unfold before me.
4 – Google Street View
I used to think it was a lot like cheating, but it saves me a lot of fucking time when I am doing my research. I know Montreal very, very well, but every once in a while, I need to find that spot at that place or that building somewhere in the south-west (for example). And since I’ve lived in the east for a decade now, I don’t remember exactly where everything is. Instead of hopping on a train and walking around the neighbourhood for hours (which I don’t have anymore), I will look it up on Google street view. Now don’t go thinking I don’t do the research. What I love about writing is going to places, getting the feel of it, the smell, the sounds and all. But for the very rare occasions in a month where I can actually have a few hours just to wander around, I need to know exactly where I am going for it to be worth my time.
5 – The newspapers
I take half an hour every morning to do a press review. I have a selection of newspapers that I have come to enjoy over the years and they range from liberal to conservative in scope. I don’t read every article in every paper (granted, my favourite part still are the political cartoons) but I do get a good picture of what’s going on in the city, the province and the world. It is a great, great place to keep up with current affairs, crime sprees, political schemes and anything else, good or bad, that might make its way into a novel.
That’s pretty much it for now,
Thanks for reading,
About me : My name is Ian and I’m a hardcore kid turned writer. I have been straight edge and vegetarian for at least a decade now and I hope to bring the passion, verve and dedication of hardcore into the art form of the novel. You can find me in Montreal, Quebec, with my wife Mary and daughter Kaori.