For me, inspiration is the juice that you get from an experience that leads you from where you were a minute ago to someplace bigger, deeper, more intense. It doesn't necessarily have to be a good or positive experience.
Inspiration, for sure, can be a cliché: the beach at sunset, reading a poem about roses, listening to 'Light My Fire' on your headphones.
I find tremendous inspiration in the city of
Los Angeles, and that's
why I set one of my mystery series there, starting with THE ACTRESS. Oh, God,
the pace, the energy, the history of it all---glamour, crime, innovation, disaster,
sex, rags to riches to rags.
I lived on the West Coast for 17 years, and have spent lots of time in
It's an infuriating place---all those people trying to drive on the same road
you are, the asbestos-like smog, the on-the-makeness, the crime (which is just
a particularly lousy way to be on the make), the poison oak in . Griffith Park
But! How sublime is the epicenter of American culture! Arguable? I simply say: the movies, custom cars, surfing, Watts Towers, and the weather.
[I took the above photo at the Griffith Observatory. Love that Greek key detailing.]
When I was in university, I got into reading Joan Didion, whose writing about
I admired so much: so incisive, so caustic, so elegiac. Yes, somehow L.A. died for Joan, and she moved to New York, the next best thing.
sure isn't dead for everybody.
One of the most intense experiences I've had in Los Angeles was in the summer of 1995, when the O.J. Simpson murder trial was saturating the city like creosote on a wharf piling. I flew into LAX and boarded the rental car shuttle bus, en route to a business meeting. The driver, a broad-shouldered black guy, greeted each of us with a cold stare. Once seated, I realized that the bus radio was tuned to the live broadcast of the Simpson trial. Every single passenger on that bus was white. We were all these little white businesspeople with our briefcases, and he was this stone-silent black guy with his hands gripping the wheel, and we all listened to the trial together, without anyone uttering a word, for the ten-minute ride to the car lot.
More recently, I was invited to dinner to a house in the
Hollywood hills. My friend, an actor, and his wife were
house- and dog-sitting for a director they knew, and they wanted some company,
and I was in town. So my companion and I drove up those narrow twisting
streets, and found our friends in an aerie above the city with purple evening
coming on. The house had this tremendous aura of swank, with warm maple wood
floors and ten-foot-high chiffon drapes screening the narrow deck. I remarked
on a framed photograph of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra on a wall.
"Oh, yeah, Ava used to own this place," I was told. "The current owners keep that picture."
Immediately my glamour glands started to pump, and I smelled the lipstick and the spilled Scotch and the cigarette smoke, and the split-level house came almost alive. We drank wine in the billowing sensuous privacy of the deck. The wind picked up and night came down, and we talked and laughed about a thousand things.
I'm looking forward to being in Los Angeles this weekend (Writer's Digest conference) and the next (workshops sponsored by Kleis TV). Details at my web site. It would be great if you could join me.
Is there a particular place that gets your creative juices going?
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