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The Inspiration Behind the Top Ten Novels in Our Inkshares Sci-Fi and Fantasy Contest

This week in the Nerdist Inkshares Collection Contest, we asked the authors with the top 10 projects to tell us about the source of inspiration behind these novels in 100 words or less. (Order as of 5 p.m. PST 9/15/2015)

Zachary Tyler Linville, author of Welcome to Deadland:

The inspiration for Welcome To Deadland came from two places. The first of which is from working at a theme park in college, where I was constantly surrounded by vast numbers of guests in the Florida heat and would joke around with coworkers about a survival plan if the world ‘ended’ during our shift. Second, I wanted to build upon diversity in literature to give people of varying ages, genders, ethnicities, ideologies and sexualities characters to relate to. And what happens when these strangers are forced together to survive; can they overlook their differences and realize they’re all human?

Richard Heinz, author of The Seventh Age: Dawn:

Ever crawl through hidden railways under Chicago? I work in construction and hidden just out of sight in any city is an amazing labyrinth of architecture that has a story. For a decade I’ve been crafting the setting of The Seventh Age by studying secret societies and urban legends. As The Seventh Age grew into its own treacherous setting with many stories and conspiracies, I felt the only way to do it justice was to write a novel about the one story I never told: The beginning. The Seventh Age: Dawn is just one of many stories.

Dave Barrett, author of It’s All Fun and Games:

I wrote this story to give voice to my childhood desire to join the fantasy worlds of my literary heroes. Growing up, I used playing Dungeons and Dragons with my older brother as one outlet and daydreaming in classes as yet another. As a father, I have watched my own children read a new generation of stories by the likes of Rick Riordan and Eoin Colfer, and was inspired to add my own imagination to that pool of literature. Why am I hoping to publish this particular story? Well, because my kids told me I should!

Scott Barsotti, author of Single Version:

There was a period of time when it seemed every story I read or video I watched was an elaborate hoax. Part of why Single Version’s society no longer functions is that nothing can be trusted. All information is corrupted. News stories are completely faked. Language has little reliable meaning. And empathy is dead. A world I hope we aren’t headed for. The title is derived from the IT concept of an elusive but ideal “single version of the truth.” But what happens when a world of chaos and fragments slowly, then suddenly, crystallizes? Also, cockroaches scare me.

Ricardo Henriquez, author of The Catcher’s Trap:

The Catcher’s Trap was inspired by my fight with depression. Some time ago I wrote: “depression felt like being possessed by a tortured spirit. There was no incremental sadness rising from my feet to my head. It was just an instant internal devastation that took over in one big explosion.” Years later — when life was bright again— I thought: what if the guy who wrote this had to find the strength and will to fight for his life and his freedom. What if pain was his gift, the source of power he needed to become a hero.

Robert Wren, author of Ophelia, Doll:The characters were originally modeled after a Halloween costume my fiancee and I created several years ago — a living marionette and her deranged puppet-master. I was inspired to finish the story, however, when my son, Hunter, told me that he wanted to be a Park Ranger in case he couldn’t make it as an artist. Hearing my then seven year old planning his “fallback career” forced me to reevaluate my own priorities. I knew that if I wanted him to believe that his dreams were achievable, I’d have to stop simply providing a living for my family and start living.

Brian Guthrie, author of Rise:

Growing up, my reading centered on C.S. Lewis and Stephen Lawhead. As such, redemptive stories had a large influence on me. Later, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy showed me how to do that in a sci-fi setting. Then, I discovered the Deathgate Cycle by Hickman/Weis and found myself awed by the level of worldbuilding. I felt a strong pull to do the same thing as all of those writers: create a unique world in a unique way and fill it with characters on both sides of a story that all found themselves on the road to redemption.

Andrew J. Ainsworth, author of These Old Bones:

I was daydreaming up new story ideas, and two thoughts popped into my head: one, the morbid image of a young boy traveling down a lonely road, it was raining, and he had a bag of bones slung over his shoulder. I thought, “Ooo…that’s creepy. Why bones? Where is he going?” And two, this was not long after my grandmother passed away. I thought it would be nice to have a protagonist whose actions are intimately tied to his grandmother’s influence in his life. Plus, old ladies are awesome, don’t you think? Thus, These Old Bones was born.

J-F Dubeau, author of A God in the Shed

I’ve always been inspired by contrasts. Light against dark. Good, evil. Beauty and horror. I’m mostly intrigued by the places where the extremes circle back upon themselves. I wanted to tell a story where the terrible become magnificent and the shadows are bathed in light who in turn is obscured. So I started with a minuscule village and added an incredible evil. I took bored children and gave them immense responsibilities. I made magic as real as I could and blurred what it meant to be real. I wanted Lovecraft and Mark Twain to shake hands and write a story.

Susan Ranscht, co-author of Enhanced

When darkness turns your life inside out, you discover who your real friends are. Today, my co-author Robb is proud to be gay, but 23 years ago, not so much. Our friendship, sprouting during creative theatrical collaborations, blossomed during Robb’s darkest time, bringing light back. Then the “It gets better” campaign planted the seed that became Enhanced.

We determined to bring a gay protagonist and his geeky female friend to young adult literature, sharing their personal struggles to belong even as they become heroes in an exciting sci-fi adventure where belonging or not belonging may mean life or death.

Which book is your favorite so far? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to pre-order your favorite before the contest ends next week!

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