I often get asked, “Where does the inspiration for your writing come from?” This is a common question that most writers hear from readers and other aspiring writers sooner or later. Stick with me for a bit while I give some history. It’s the only way I can take a bloody stab at it.
I grew up in the Hudson River Valley of New York about seventy-five miles from New York City. By New York standards, this is known as “upstate”.
In that area of the state there were always creepy old ghost stories that I heard about from older kids and occasionally adults. Old buildings and vacant homes were, of course, all haunted. The woods were big, dark and scary. Creatures lived there, of course. Sleepy Hollow was less than forty miles downriver. We all know that story. Huge, ominous castle-like mansions sat on rolling hillsides overlooking the dark waters on both sides of the river. I loved it, and still do. Nearly forty-five years after moving away from that cool area, those stories and places still stick with me. I shared amazing friendships with schoolmates and neighborhood kids in New York which also still carry on to this day. Inspiration.
My family spent our summers in northeastern Pennsylvania at my Grandmother’s house. (My grandfather died when I was eight.) It was lakefront property and there were a lot of fun things to do for my two older siblings and me. My dad bought us a motor boat when I was twelve or thirteen. I was too young to drive a car but navigated that sixteen foot Crestliner boat all around that huge lake, the largest natural lake in Pennsylvania. Inspiration.
A now defunct amusement park was less than a mile down the road from us. I can’t even say how many days and nights I spent riding the rides or playing pin ball there. It was a fantasy land for me. Although the park no longer exists, the lights, music and brightly painted buildings are still clear as day in my mind. Inspiration.
In the other direction was Sandy Beach. A public beach with a boat launch, drive-in movie theater and an entertainment hall where big names and local bands of those days performed every weekend. We would sit on our boat dock and listen to the music echo through the lake valley until very late at night. Inspiration.
My favorite thing at the lake was right outside the living room window of that big old house. A cemetery. My great grandparents, great-great grand parents, uncles, aunts and babies who didn’t survive their birth or infancy were all buried there. My bedroom was located right above the living room and I loved looking out of the window next to my bed at the cemetery, especially during those late night summer thunderstorms where lightning illuminated the headstones and booming thunder rattled the windows. So cool! Inspiration.
Back then I loved reading things like the Oz books, Rip Van Winkle and Doc Savage. As I got older and started to read at a higher level, I got into darker things like Hitchcock thrillers, the science fiction of Clarke and Asimov, and the horror titles such as The Other or Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. I was hooked. By the time The Exorcist was published in 1973, I was 15 years old and a total fan of horror and those other genres. I couldn’t get enough. Inspiration.
My father’s job transferred to Colorado when I was a senior in high school. My sister had just married and moved to another city in Pennsylvania with her new husband. My brother had a good job and his own apartment in nearby Poughkeepsie. I didn’t want to leave the area but at just seventeen years of age had no say in the matter. It was gut wrenching. Inspiration.
Colorado. I hated it. The few months I spent in my senior year of school here sucked. I knew nobody. I thought the classes were way below the level of education I was getting previously in New York. Since they had no English classes to offer, they had me work in the school library for credit. I loved it. I read. A lot. Inspiration.
Ironically, my best friend and neighbor from New York also moved here to Colorado in the same small city where I still live today. His father had also transferred here. We stuck close together. It was a very cliquish small town with kids who had known each other since grade school. We didn’t fit in. We somehow managed to meet other misfits and created our own clique. My friend returned to New York a few years later and tragically died in a rock climbing accident. Currently, his younger sister is my next door neighbor. Inspiration.
I did move to Phoenix, Arizona for a year after high school to attend college but it didn’t work out. I preferred partying over studying. I met amazing people there and still stay in touch with a couple of them. Others moved on, never to be seen again. I returned to Colorado and stayed. This place grew on me. I enjoy the mountains. I landed a good job that lasted some thirty years. Of course, I met many people. Created relationships. I collected books. I went to book signing events. Landed and lost good and bad jobs. Became a book seller. Became friends with writers. Inspiration.
I eventually met Josh Viola. We also became fast friends. We co-founded Hex Publishers. Josh as owner and chief editor. I used my writer connections to acquire talent for our early anthology and the rest is, well, a cliché. Inspiration.
I enjoy writing about locations and events that set a mood. In the foreword of the new Hex Publishers book, PSI-WARS: Classified Cases of Psychic Phenomena, I go into some details on this. My short story (The Visions of Perry Godwin) which is included in the book is based at the lake house in Pennsylvania and the characters I created are combinations of ancestors and relatives long since gone.
I obviously draw on my own personal history for my inspiration. Things I liked or disliked. People I knew, good, bad and in between. Places I’ve lived or visited. The emotions of meeting and missing friends and moving away as a kid from the only people I ever knew. The loss of friends and family by both tragic and natural causes. The joys of new relationships. Break-ups. Adopting new pets. Losing old ones. Story telling is all about making people feel something. A place. A sound. A smell. A touch. A smile. A laugh. A sadness. A terror. It’s all there. As a writer it’s my mission to draw it out of the reader. Most of us have shared experiences. I use mine to try and get my reader to recall theirs.
About the Author
Dean Wyant is a forty-five year resident of Longmont, Colorado. He is a bookseller, book collector and avid reader. He supports his book habit by working full time at a major international corporation. His previous co-authored short stories have appeared in Nightmares Unhinged and Blood Business by Hex Publishers and Found by RMFW Press. Psi-Wars marks his first solo short story publication. He continues to write daily whenever his ragdoll cat, Ichabod allows him to sit at his desk.
About the Book
PSI-WARS: Classified Cases of Psychic Phenomena
by Joshua Viola (editor)
From Atlantis to the Third Reich and beyond, these thirteen original cerebral tales of science fiction and horror explore the evils that abound when humanity wields extraordinary minds as weapons, whether to wage war or prevent it. Steeped in psychic savagery, telekinetic combat, and extrasensory espionage, PSI-WARS imagines corrupt governments and daring operatives, gods and soldiers and hackers and spies. The authors don’t flinch when they peer around the darkest, most violent corners of the human psyche. Will you?
Table of Contents
FOREWORD by Dean Wyant
INTRODUCTION by John Palisano
THE CALABRIAN by Warren Hammond
AND WHEN YOU TEAR US APART, WE STITCH OURSELVES BACK TOGETHER by Betty Rocksteady
VERY SURELY DO I NOT DREAM by Matthew Kressel
CRADLE TO GRAVE by Angie Hodapp
PSNAKE EYES by Keith Ferrell
PROTECTORS OF ATLANTIS by Mario Acevedo
THE JARHEADS by Sean Eads and Joshua Viola
UNDER THE LOTUS by Darin Bradley
THE VISIONS OF PERRY GODWIN by Dean Wyant
TO JUMP IS TO FALL by Stephen Graham Jones
AWAKE by Gabino Iglesias
BLUEBIRD KILLING IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT by Gary Jonas
THE TALKING WAR by E. Lily Yu