I recently received a question from a writing friend on twitter (Thanks Morgan! @JMColbertBooks) that basically asked “Where the heck do you get your writing ideas from?”
And my answer was – essentially everywhere. But, it did inspire me to write a post on my creative writing process and all the fun little Easter eggs that I like to insert into my writing. This is mostly because I don’t think anyone else would notice, so I’m going to make it obvious by telling you what and where the Easter eggs actually are!
So without further ado, here are my secret (or not so secret) inspirations for my first novel that’s slowly becoming available on wattpad (with an old version on SwoonReads) – Honey & Bee.
Where did I start?
This book started with a song – Honey and the Bee by Owl City. It’s beautiful, has two distinct, amazing voices and has some amazing lyrics. Initially, I wanted to make a music video for this song. And so I started jotting ideas down. But the ideas kept getting more and more involved, and before I knew it, I had a plot for a novella written out. At that point I was like, holy crap… I should try to write a book. And so I did.
That effort spawned the first full length draft of my novel called “If the Green Left the Grass…” and it was an embarrassing first attempt at writing if I do say so myself, haha. My second major draft “Honey & Bee” that’s currently up on swoon is much better, but in all honesty, still needs some major edits. Which is why it’s getting revamped and updated on wattpad now! YAY!
Where did I come up with the Character’s Names?
So this is actually my favorite part of Honey & Bee because there are SO MANY hidden meanings behind each of the characters and I absolutely LOVE it.
Henry Adams – He’s the male main character and one of my two points of view shown in this book. As for the name, Henry sounds like Honey, earning him his familial nickname. And Adams is a reference to the male voice in the song – Adam Young.
Briana Stringer – She’s the female main character and one of my two points of view shown in this book. As for her name, Briana shortens to Bree, which sounds like Bee. And Stringer was me trying to be funny. If you remove the R’s from her name it would change Bree Stringer to Bee Stinger. HAH! Also the female voice in the song is Breanne Duren (which sounds a lot like Briana!)
Niao “Neil” Feng – Neil is Henry’s best friend and is actually named after an animal. You know what other creatures like honey/sweet things? Hummingbirds. Neil is Chinese and his Chinese name LITERALLY means hummingbird. For his English name, I just chose something that sounded close enough to the Mandarin equivalent, so Niao = Neil.
Suzannah Foxglove – Suzy is Bree’s best friend and is actually named after a flower that bees really like. The flower is called (surprise!) foxglove, haha. You know what other creatures really like foxglove? Hummingbirds. Which is why Neil is so attracted to Suzy. Suzy’s first name was just something that I wanted to sound very elegant and Southern. There was no other inspiration for the first name than that.
Polleen “Polly” Adams: This was another one of my attempts to be funny. Polleen = pollen, another things that bees like and that honey is related to hahaha.
Ray and Dottie Adams (Henry’s parents): Ray was supposed to be like a ray of sun. Dottie was just supposed to be a cute name, no other reason.
Holly (Henry’s ex): Holly is supposed to sound like Polly which causes some fun miscommunication in the book. Holly is also a very spiky/glossy leaved plant that is poisonous/toxic to humans and animals. Just like how Holly and Henry’s relationship is poisonous 😛
Elizabeth and Zachary Mayson (Bree’s adoptive parents): Elizabeth and Zachariah were a couple from the bible that were not blessed with children for a long time. In my story, they Liz and Zach couldn’t have kids, so they adopted Bree. Their last name Mayson = May Sun… haha! I still think I’m clever, even if you don’t!
Michael Rilkand (Henry’s painting mentor/boss): I was thinking, what else goes well with honey? Well, in the bible, milk and honey is supposedly the best combo ever. Therefore Michael Rilkand = M…ilkand when you delete some of the letters.
Bree’s catty coworkers: may have been named after some girls I didn’t particularly like in the past… hehe.
Where did I come up with the Characters Personalities/Looks?
For the most part, I tried to make the characters match the personality of their respective personified thing.
Henry = honey. He’s sweet and has honey colored eyes, hair and an easy smile. He also worked on a farm, so he’s got the easy-on-the-eyes farm boy demeanor as well.
Bree = Bee. She’s made up of sharp angles and also has a sharp wit and tongue (that can sting you if you get too close!). She’s from the city and has a snap-judgment type of attitude.
Neil = Hummingbird. He’s always well-dressed, suave and effortlessly attractive. He’s also agile/good at sports.
Suzy = Foxglove. She’s beautiful and has a way about her that makes people feel comfortable and want to smile.
Other things to note: Henry and Bree in a way represent my husband and me personality wise. I am most like Henry and he is most like Bree, causing a bit of a role reversal on traditional male/female sterotypes. However, looks-wise Suzy and Neil represent myself and my husband (white girl and Chinese guy ^_^). So I was able to play around with a few very true elements while writing for each of these characters, and they all contain little bits of my personalities, or my husband’s, or both!
Below is my novel aesthetic for the book. It has all the main characters along with what they represent. Pretty neat huh?
In the first draft of my book, they all live in a city called Metropolis. This made too many people think of superman (and confuse Henry with superman, lol) so in future drafts it’ll be called Setropolis.
Setropolis is basically my lazy way to insert my own Seattle familiarity and flare into New York City. I didn’t want them to ACTUALLY live in New York City, that way I could make up elements all my own and so REAL New Yorkers wouldn’t get mad at me for getting details wrong. I’ve only been to NYC once, so I figured that wasn’t enough familiarity for me to write about the city in detail without some research. Again, me being a tiny smidge lazy.
It was also fun because I used restaurant names in my book that are similar to actual restaurants I’ve been to in Seattle. In the book I talk about Porridge Bay for brunch and Fries and Pints for drinks. These names are jokes on real life places called Portage Bay where I go for the occasional brunch, and Pies and Pints where I go for the occasional beverage ^_^
There is also a reference to San Juanesco, the city across the country from Setropolis that Bree is trying to run away to. It’s a word mixture of San Francisco and the San Juan Islands (which are located off the coast of Washington State).
A Few of my Favorite Things
I inserted a few familiar or favorite things into the story. This includes:
- My favorite flowers: the yellow rose and dahlias
- Star gazing: I love doing this. We’d do this every summer as a kid when the Perseid showers were happening.
- Dancing: I’ve never been a professional dancer, but I love to move to music. So Suzy/Neil’s dancing is a reflection of my own love for the sport.
- Cooking together: This is one of my favorite things to do with friends/loved ones.
- Art: I once went to this competition called Art Prize. The first prize that year went to a piece called “Open Water”. It was just a huge painting of waves and you REALLY felt like you were there. That was direct inspiration for one of the paintings I discussed in the book.
There are a few lyrics of the song that really spoke to me and so they made their ways into the thoughts of the characters, or they developed themselves into entire scenes of the story. I’ll give a few examples.
“These cold iron rails
Leave old mossy trails
Through the countryside
The crow and the beanfield…”
This was the inspiration for Henry to grow up on a farm.
“’Cause my heart stops without you
There’s something about you
That makes me feel alive”
Both Henry have odd feelings of ‘something about you’ with each other (which is explained later in the book).
“But if I reached for your hand, would your eyes get wide”
Henry sometimes reaches for Bree who doesn’t particularly enjoy physical contact. Her reaction is always her eyes getting wide and batting him away or reprimanding him. I’m a hugger, lots of people (I learned a little late in life) are not hahahaha.
“Don’t remind me
I’m a chickadee in love with the sky
But that’s clearly not a lot to crow about
‘Cause when the stars silhouette me
I’m scared they’ll forget me and flicker out
I taste honey but I haven’t seen the hive
Yeah, I didn’t look, I didn’t even try”
This whole section reflects Bree’s solitary tendencies and tragic past.
“Let’s up and leave the weeping to the willow tree
And pour our tears in the sea”
This section inspired Bree’s trip with Suzy to visit Suzy’s family and their serious heart-to-heart on the beach.
“Backyard of butterflies surrounded me
I fell in love with you like bees to honey…
Yeah, I never thought
We were two peas in a pod
To be suddenly bloomed
And I knew that I’d always love you
Oh, I’ll always love you too…
If I reached for your hand for the rest of my life
Who knew the other side could be so green”
All of these past sections represent different parts of the epilogue. Read the book to find out more and see what I’m talking about! I’m currently making some edits on wattpad, so if you want the newest content, go there. If you’d rather just read the whole thing, go to the previous version of my book on swoon ^_^
Hope you enjoyed the post today. And as always, feel free to ask me any questions!!