Do you like to know the ‘story behind the story’ when it comes to sources of inspiration for written works? I do—I love when authors include the inspo for their tales in their publications. The story catalysts and accompanying thought processes are often so interestingly abstract!
People often ask me where I get my ideas. Sometimes that’s an easy question to answer…sometimes not so much! Since my short story collection Coralesque and other Tales to Disturb and Distract launched in May this year, the question has come up a lot more frequently.
In fact, the lovely Clare Rhoden recently invited me to be a guest on her fabulous blog, reflecting on what inspires my writing. You can read ‘Ocean Currents: Inspiration by Rebecca Fraser’ here. The interview also includes a bonus—the first chapter of my middle grade fantasy adventure Curtis Creed and the Lore of the Ocean.
In this blog post, I thought I’d share the ‘story behind the story’ of some of the tales in Coralesque. I hope you enjoy learning about some of the weird wells their inspiration was drawn from!
When I was living on the gold Coast, I worked in the real estate industry for some time in an administrative capacity. They were fun, fast times, and everyone knew everyone. One local salesperson lived for surfing, and chased waves all over the world. He once developed a nasty infection from a reef cut while surfing at Sumatra. While he went on to recover well…I went on to write Coralesque. The ocean is an endless source of fascination to me. Many of my stories are set in, or inspired by, what lurks beneath the waves, both seen and unseen.
Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Beautiful
Story inspiration is a strange beast. I once watched an interview given by Paris Hilton. In response to a question about her polarising popularity, she said, “Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m beautiful.” This odd reply stuck with me, and bubbled away alongside a plot scrap that sought to hold a mirror up to society’s obsession with keeping up with the Joneses. Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Beautiful was the fun-to-write result. It went on to be published in an issue of Polluto literary journal, sharing page space with the amazing Stephen Graham Jones!
When I was a little girl, my father introduced me to one of his childhood favourites The Little Round House by Marion St John-Webb. Among the many beautifully-crafted characters that bring The Little Round House to life is a charmingly roguish pedlar. He’s stayed with me all these years and I channelled a little of his energy to shape our ne’er-do-well from The Pedlar, Calypso Reeves.
Motherhood can be a complicated, sometimes frightening space, especially for first time mothers. When my son was born, I clearly recall the emotional weight of responsibility and expectation that arrived with him. William’s Mummy was written around that time. Thankfully, my Play Group experience was very different to that of Selena Morris (special shout out to Carrara Funtime)!
Uncle Alec’s Gargoyle
I have great affection for the storytelling style the masters of horror from the turn of the 20th Century delivered with such understated class. Uncle Alec’s Gargoyle is my attempt to pay homage to their style.
Never Falls Far
My parents live in Hobart, and I visit often. There’s an enigmatic, wild and dangerous beauty to Tasmania that makes it such a ‘ripe’ setting for tales of horror. When I visit my parents, we often drive down through the Huon Valley – apple country, rows and rows of apple trees. What makes some grow better than others? Ah, gotcha…
Some have called Cycle a feminist poem. Perhaps it is. At the time of writing, I wanted to turn the male-stalks-female trope on its head, and the werewolf mythology felt like a good vehicle to carry it.
Like many others, I’ve had my eclectic—sometimes wonderful, often bizarre, occasionally downright dangerous—share of flatmates. In my early twenties, I shared an apartment with a man from Mauritius. He was a talented artist, an even more talented alcoholic, and completely insane. He was also a wonderful storyteller, and recounted many tales about his time growing up in Mauritius, and his dabbles in black magic. I never quite knew how much to believe, and how much he embellished, but one particular story always stuck with me. My flatmate swore (not to the gods of his ancestors) that he had paid a woman in a neighbouring village to cast a spell on a stone so he could make himself invisible. He insisted that it worked. But he also insisted I was the reincarnation of the Queen of Sheba, so…
Hermit 2.0 received an Honourable Mention in the Somers Paper Nautilus Writing Competition Short Fiction Category, judged by best-selling Australian author, Garry Disher.The theme for the competition was ‘Shell’ – Hermit 2.0 was my interpretation of the theme. I remember thinking at the time I hit the submit button, someone is either going to think this is very cool, or just to ‘out there.’ Thankfully, it was the former 😊 I do like this little story a lot. It’s essentially a love story.
My best mate, Tanya, lives on eight acres in Torbanlea, west of Hervey Bay in Queensland. I don’t get to her place nearly as often as I’d like, but on one particular visit, we sat on the verandah looking out at the new dam her and her husband, Matt, had recently installed. Tanya told me she’d seen a duck disappear below the surface one day. She’d watched, and she’d waited, but it never re-appeared…
The Carol Singer at the Back
When the AHWA put out a call for Christmas-themed flash fiction of exactly 500 words, I was up for the challenge. I love everything about Christmas, but what a manic season it is! Emotions and expectations are heightened. The pressure to have a good time can stretch one as taut as the skin of a roasting turkey. Christmas delivers a dark side in a beautifully-wrapped box just waiting to be opened.
Peroxide and the Doppelganger
The band name Peroxide and the Regrowths jumped into my head one day, and wouldn’t leave until I wrote it out.
Just another City Night, 2086
As I mentioned earlier, pedlars have always captured my imagination. In this dark little micro offering I introduce a pedlar of a very different kind. I’d been watching a fair bit of cyberpunk at the time, and also writing about a near-future city in a novel I was working on, and a snapshot of two characters—one desperate junkie, one merciless dealer—wanted to star in a little vignette of their own.
When I heard the River Red Gums that line the Murray River referred to as ‘widow makers’ (their heavy branches have been known to come down in high winds and flatten campers in tents and swags beneath them), it sewed the seed for this little tale.
In the Middle of the Night
Insomnia sucks. What can I say?
Once Upon a Moonlit Clearing
I have great affection for AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running speculative fiction magazine. It’s acted as a publishing platform for many new and established authors thanks to the passion of founder, Ion (Nuke) Newcombe. I’m grateful to have been published in AntiSF multiple times, so when the call came to contribute to the milestone 250th Issue I was delighted to contribute, and this little fantasy offering was the outcome.
The AVM Initiative
Widespread deadly viral infection—it’s a popular horror trope for a reason. It happens. It’s happened before, and, as I write this, it’s happening right now. Mosquitoes, fleas, rats, avian flu, our complete disregard and disrespect for wildlife, water pollution, or…perhaps it will be deliberate. The AVM Initiative seems to be striking a chord with many readers—I dare say they find it all too topical and relevant. It also was selected for a spot in this year’s Microflix Film Festival competition. If any film makers out there want to have a crack at turning The AVM initiative into a three-minute film, I’d be well chuffed!
What the Sheoaks Saw
Big cat sightings across the Mornington Peninsula and other parts of Victoria are oft-reported, giving rise to the legend of the ‘Peninsula Panther’ and similar urban myths in other parts of the state. Records of these sightings can be found in newspaper, radio and television archives, government reports, a very few books, and—of course—on the internet. More info can be found at http://www.bigcatsvic.com.au/
In the Shadow of Oedipus
This was my very first publication, and I clearly remember the thrill of receiving that first acceptance. While it’s certainly not the best thing I’ve ever written, it holds a happy little place in my heart, and was inspired by my love for unreliable narrators, and the unique relationship between mothers and sons.
So, there you have it—A little story inspo for some of the tales in Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb ad Distract. If you’d like to know the story behind the story of any tales that I didn’t include here, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to reply.
Thanks for reading!
Happy writing, happy reading, and, of course, happy days 😊
Both Coralesque and other Tales to Disturb and Distract
Curtis Creed and the Lore of the Ocean
are available through all your favourite bricks-and-mortar and online bookstores, or you can order in through your local library.