Two weeks ago, we posted a set of
questions from Casey in Pennsylvania, along
with Nan's answers to three of the five questions. Here are the answers to the remaining
questions, which are:
4) How much research do you do before writing about the setting (Ex- time period and place,
5) Where does your inspiration usually come from?
Thursday, 20 November 2003
4. I always do a great deal of research. For The Scarlet Pimpernel I read everything I
could find on the French Revolution, England at the time, etc. It was doing research for SP that
I discovered Mme. Toussaud had been active in the revolution and decided to make her a character
in the show. With my current show, Camille Claudel, I have read about 6 or 7 books. I
cannot say enough about the importance of research.
5. I wish I could tell you one place from which inspiration springs. It seems to me that it's
always popping around like electricity and just arbitrarily zaps you whenever it feels like it.
The worst is when ideas come in the middle of the night (which happens way too often). I
also find inspiration will hit in the bathtub. I think inner ideas like to jump out at times
when it's inconvenient to grab a pen. Maybe that's good, because it makes you mull ideas over
for a longer period before you start acting on them. I know what you're asking me is "how does
one come up with ideas," but truthfully, it either happens or it doesn't. Of course, there are
tons of writers who simply go to the bookshelf, the video store or the newspaper to find subject
matter, and obviously a vast number of writers (including me) take inspiration from the people
and events in their own lives. But I guess I'm talking to you about a more ineffable experience.
These answers are fairly short and somewhat gloss over what are often complicated issues. If
you would like to know more of my feelings about the whole writing process, there are probably
other archival answers on this site to which you could refer, as well as interviews I've done
which you could pull up either here or on the internet - but I hope for now that this will
Thanks for asking and good luck with your high school project.