Monday 1 February 2021

Inspirations V - A Personal Insight into Writing by Don Levers

 What inspires me to write?

I'm not sure if anything inspires me, but many things give me inspiration. 

The inspiration will vary depending on what I'm writing. It could be a news headline that gives me the idea for a story, like the Newspaper headlines about an incredible fail during a vault heist in 1977. The headlines gave me an idea for my book Loot for the Taking. The thieves in this world-class heist were caught at the airport because their bags were so heavy the baggage handlers couldn't lift them, which led to their capture and arrest. I always wondered if they would have got away with it if they hadn't decided to fly out-of-town. Then I asked myself what I would have done differently.

When I wrote my children's book about the legendary Okanagan Lake Monster, Ogopogo, it began the day my youngest daughter was born. That day I saw something unexplainable on the calm waters of Okanagan Lake. At the time, my job required a lot of travel up and down the highways alongside the lake. During those hours alone in the car, I came up with the story and told it to my young daughters. Before that, I made stories, using their stuffed animals as the inspiration for the adventures they had been on. 

My current project, Our Fathers' Footsteps, was inspired by Gord Steinke's comment. He is a local News Anchor for Global Television. I told him I was heading to Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings to see where my dad landed on Juno Beach. He said, "It will be great to walk in your dad's footsteps."

After speaking with Gord, I began a more in-depth search of my dad's war experiences. Using his journal and letters he sent home, I realized there must be many more stories of men just like him that have never been told. I began to reach out to people whose fathers landed on the beaches that day with the hope of finding more stories like his. I spent months interviewing families and was inspired by their stories. Using their letters and diaries I discovered how close these men came to never returning home and becoming the fathers these families loved. 

In this case, it was the research that inspired me. Reading through regimental war diaries helped fill in the gaps in the families' stories. The appreciation of these families to find out more about their fathers' experiences helped keep me focused on their accounts.

I began another story after completing Loot for the Taking. This story is called Terminal Vengeance. It is also inspired by headlines. In this case, it is the injustice of our justice system. As one police officer told me, "It is a legal system, not a justice system." As an ex-Police Reserve Officer, I knew a little about police procedure. Still, interviews with current officers, including those in the field of forensics, have inspired some of this book's sections. Developing my characters has been assisted by using snippets of hundreds of people I have known throughout my life. 

Having said all that, I suppose it is real-life experiences that have inspired me to write what I have to this point.

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