H is for Heartleaf

Story ideas come from some weird places.

The inspiration for Bound came from two places: the first was a desire for a story that started with a decidedly non-badass girl saving a hero’s life… an idea that I quickly rejected in favour of her saving a villain’s life, because that’s far more interesting to me. And hey, I write what I want to read.

The other was my headaches.

I get a lot of them. My husband would call that the understatement of the century. All told, I’m insanely grateful if I get through a full day without any kind of pain. Most of the time it’s pain that’s very manageable with drugs, coffee, cold packs, and more drugs. I get through the day, I get my work done, the house doesn’t end up a complete disaster area.

Then there are the headaches that send me to bed because the light and noise of daily life are too much.

It’s not always the same kind of pain. Sometimes it’s a feeling like nausea, but in my skull. Sometimes it’s ice-picks stabbing at my eyes or my temples. Sometimes it feels like someone whacked me with a 2×4 on the back of the head, and sometimes it’s a seething, creeping, crawling pain that oozes around like a tiny monster trapped under the bones of my head.

It’s quite pleasant.

Wait… no. No, it sucks.

But the thing is, something good came of it. Something great, I think. I found a story. As I lay in bed with these monster headaches, or when my head was clear but I was too exhausted to do much else, I started to wonder what it would be like if there was a reason for the pain.

What if it had something to do with magic? What if it somehow hurt someone, made her feel pain like I felt?

What if it led to great adventure? To love, to self-discovery, to danger and wonder and a huge, wide world of possibility?

Well, my own headaches didn’t lead to any of that, but they did lead to me puzzling out a story that’s become a favourite of more people than I ever could have imagined.

Now, to work our way around to today’s topic…

In Bound, Rowan experiences headaches much like mine. At the beginning, she has no idea what’s causing them. No one does (which, it turns out, is probably a good thing for her). Doctors have been no help. The only relief Rowan can find from her pain is heartleaf tea, made from the inner bark of a tree that grows wild throughout Serath. The sweet-smelling, bitter-tasting tea keeps the pain at bay, at least for a while, and she’s learned to ask for nothing more than that.

Too bad for her when it becomes illegal to grow or possess it because of suspicions that it’s a magical substance.

For the record, I didn’t intend to make any statements about controlled substances there. Maybe I did… but I didn’t mean to.

Here’s a picture from my notes of the leaves that give the heartleaf tree its name.

IMG_1207
Okay, so it looks a little like a tongue in my drawing… it’s way prettier in real life, I swear.

Tell me: When have you found inspiration in an unexpected place? What was the outcome?

 

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

4 responses to “H is for Heartleaf

  • Kat

    Nausea in my head. That is the best description for my migraines I have ever heard. Now I can describe it to my non headache getting husband. Bless you.

  • Nagzilla

    All of my book ideas come from really weird places and inspirations. One came because my four year old was frighteningly good at playing darts. One came because of a really vivid and bizarre dream. One came because of a doodle that went wrong. Inspiration, I find, can come from anywhere if you’re willing to let it.

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