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Guest blogger: Rowena Cory Daniells

1 July 2012

Writers and inspiration

I’ve always been fascinated by creativity (see my post on vivid dreamers and creativity).

From interviewing writers I’ve discovered about 75% are aural. These writers make up music play lists for specific books, or play a single piece of music or album over and over to get themselves into the right mind-space to write their current book.

I belong to the 25% who are visual. I have a background as an illustrator. Going to the art gallery for me is the equivalent of a feast. I come out feeling like I’m floating on air.

When I write a book, I collect visuals that come with all sorts of associations drawn from my research into history and art. I’ve been working on The Outcast Chronicles for ten years now, gradually gathering images for my resonance file to help me visualise the world and the people. I write fantasy so there’s a lot of world building.

The story arose from the question: what would happen if people with gifts (the mystics) lived among us? Would ordinary people (True-men and women) fear and distrust people with powers?

And then I took this further: what would happen if the mystics’ powers were expressed differently in men and women?

In The Outcast Chronicles the mystic males and females crave each other’s power, but they also fear each other because they have to drop their defences to make love and this makes them vulnerable. For their own protection they divide into brotherhoods and sisterhoods. The females’ gifts are more powerful than the males’ and the men resent this. The men are physically stronger so there is an uneasy truce between the brotherhoods and sisterhoods.

With this kind of a background I figured ways to protect oneself from craving the other gender’s power would be woven into a culture rich in taboos and rituals. I see the mystics’ society as being very Byzantium, full of beauty, betrayal and danger. They would live in buildings that reflected this.


When my publishers asked me for inspiration for the covers I sent my resonance file. It contained photos and descriptions of the mystic city and the way the mystics dressed. I thought they’d wear a cross between Egyptian and Middle Eastern costumes, and there would be very little difference in the way men and women dressed. (Think Yul Brynner and Jake Gyllenhaal.)

Then I had to describe the characters for the cover artist.

In Besieged, Imoshen’s birth was hidden by her father, who was the leader of a brotherhood. He kept her imprisoned on an island and she was raised to be his weapon, to break the sisterhoods’ power. But she escaped and sought sanctuary with the T’En females. She’s the most powerful female mystic of her generation and the sisterhoods look to her to protect them. Meanwhile the males fear her, but she grew up loving her father and, despite his betrayal, she wants peace between the brotherhoods and sisterhoods.

Sorne is the son of the True-man king. Because he was born a half-blood mystic, his father hid him away and raised him to be a weapon to destroy the mystics. But the more Sorne sees of the world, the more he grows to question his loyalties.

In Exile–caught up in the battle between the mystics and the True-men are Ronnyn and Aravelle, a brother and sister who are swept along by events.

And in Sanctuary there is Tobazim. The brotherhoods are ruled by powerful men who are ready to back up with threat with violence. Tobazim’s gift is not one of the martial kind, but somehow he has to save his brotherhood.

I felt the cover artist, Clint Langley, did a brilliant job of encapsulating the world and the characters with the cover illustrations.

And now, I have a confession to make. While I love a good book and follow authors, sometimes I have been guilty of buying a book just because I love the cover. Sometimes I will go to the National Geographic Wallpaper site and let the beautiful images sweep me away.

Rowena has a copy of Besieged, book one of The Outcast Chronicles, to give away. Leave a comment to go in the draw.  (The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to jovialvampyre.)

Are you an aural person or a visual person? Do you listen to music to set the tone for your day? Do you collect beautiful objects to make your surroundings beautiful? Or do you do both? What lifts your spirits and helps you get through a tough day?

You can find out more about The Outcast Chronicles on Rowena’s website, or watch the trailer.

  1. aimskye permalink
    16 July 2012 11:20 am

    Hi Rowena!

    I love to listen to music all the time. Family have commented that my driving style changes when different songs play!


  2. jovialvampyre permalink
    2 July 2012 1:33 am

    I’m a visual person. I do not use music to set the tone of my day. I don’t collect things either but my house is full out windows so I can see the beauty of nature all the time. I have no window coverings except my bedroom. Thank you.

    • 2 July 2012 10:00 pm

      Jovial Vampyre, aren’t you worried about being exposed to daylight? I thought it was bad for vampires.

      But seriously, you must have beautiful views. I envy you.

  3. Mary Preston permalink
    1 July 2012 11:23 pm

    I am definitely a visual person. My house is alive with colours such as raspberry & teal. Not a drop of beige in sight. I walk through my front door & I am HOME!!

  4. louiseforster permalink
    1 July 2012 7:20 pm

    I think in pictures. Give me a description and I’ll instantly have an image.Talking about images the cover art on your books is fantastic!!
    All the best with them and may sales sore 🙂

    • 1 July 2012 9:57 pm

      Thank you, Louise. Do you dream in colour? I bet you do. Creative people tend to have more vivid dreams.

  5. Melissa May permalink
    1 July 2012 5:46 pm

    I am both but tend more to visual ihave beautiful music playing all day at work in the background. Beautiful images do lift my spirit.I love the cover`s for book`s ,great inspiration for the imagination.I loved reading Besieged ,i gave such rich imagery ,loved it .

    • 1 July 2012 9:56 pm

      Have you read Besieged, Melissa? how did you manage that? I don’t even have copies yet.

      • Melissa May permalink
        2 July 2012 7:08 pm

        Whoop`s brain overload i have read The King`s Bastard .It`s wishful thinking that i want to read Besieged !

  6. Sue Rees permalink
    1 July 2012 5:44 pm

    I actually had an “ah ha” moment when I started to read your post as I thought I was an odd one for what I do–I’m Aural probably, though friends do send me images of hunky males as suggestions for my male protagonists (they rarely send me images of females for some reason). I have played a single song on a loop multiple times to help me create the mood for a particular scene.

    • 1 July 2012 9:55 pm

      Sue, music is really powerful. It bypasses the logic parts of the brain and goes straight to the emotions.

  7. Barbara permalink
    1 July 2012 4:18 pm

    I am more a visual type….. I have got books from the library just for the cover……

    • 1 July 2012 9:54 pm

      Barbara, we poor authors have very little say in our book covers. So I’ve been lucky.

      Where would we be without libraries?

  8. 1 July 2012 12:41 pm

    A bit of both, but definitely more visual. And one of my favourite beautiful things to collect is beautiful books. I too am guilty of buying a book just because I love the cover 🙂 I’ll get ten different versions of a favourite books if I love the look of it, hardcover, paperback, leather, different languages. I love covers on old M&B and pulps, gorgeous fantasy book art, vintage sci-fi and old childrens books. Clint langley has done an amazing job on your books again Rowena, those covers are a feast for the eyes!

    • 1 July 2012 9:53 pm

      Olga, I’ve been so lucky with Clint. I have heaps of art books, some are just on cover artists.

      • 1 July 2012 10:09 pm

        It really is an art in itself isn’t it? I’m really looking forward to the next trilogy.

  9. 1 July 2012 11:18 am

    I think the people who have joined Pin Interest must be visual types. I was skimming througthe some pages and saw such lush visuals, like a feast.

  10. Richard permalink
    1 July 2012 11:17 am

    You might have just solved a problem that I seem to be putting myself through. I am studying to be an animator at the moment and have been having a very hard time creatively, which surprises me as I was an oil painter previously.
    I am predominately an aural person, but have had no music in the house for a while … perhaps it is time to dust of the Led Zepplin and Alice Cooper albums and get the creative juices flowing.
    Thanks for sharing Rowena 🙂

    • 1 July 2012 11:19 am

      Richard, this is so true. We creative types must think of ourselves as needing to feed the mind as well as the body. So plenty of input visually as well as beautiful/inspiring music!

      • Richard permalink
        1 July 2012 3:38 pm

        Didn’t realise Beseiged had been released on Kindle. Going to start reading it now … well shortly 🙂 It would be good if they re-released the first of the T’en series on Kindle *hint *hint 😉

    • 1 July 2012 10:01 pm

      I have the rights back on the original series and plan to release it myself.

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