In one sense, everything I write will be about myself – my experiences, my observations and my imagination. I’m often asked where my ideas come from. The answer is not straightforward but here are a few things in Maddie Makes a Movie that came from real life.
- Schools in North Vancouver, Canada have amazing playground equipment.
Coming from the risk adverse education world in UK, the playground equipment in my daughter’s elementary school in North Vancouver, Canada blew our minds. The spaces are open before and after school. Parents and teachers stand by as children climb, chase each other, practice gymnastics and play games. Kids are allowed to be kids. Students are even allowed to venture into the nearby-forested areas when there hasn’t been a wild animal sighting.
- My daughter broke her arm in grade 1, jumping off a swing.
The incident happened at a friend’s house, not at school. The girls were challenging each other to see who could jump furthest, highest and do the best aerial tricks. Unfortunately, my daughter mistimed a leap, fell awkwardly and ended up in a purple plaster cast for her summer vacations. It didn’t stop her adventurous spirit for long.
- Monkeys can smile for a peanut.
There are times when we are lucky enough to visit my husband on a film set. We hang out with the stunt performers, make-up artists, costume department, animal trainers and many other talented artists. It’s amazing watching the film making process. Experts make things like animal training look easy. We all know it’s not. It was fun to wonder ‘what if’ Maddie thought all she had to do was have the right treat and the hamsters would do what she wanted them to do for her film.
- My daughter rode her electric skateboard to school
Maddie’s electric skateboard exists and my daughter did ride it to school. I was terrified that there would be an accident so I made her write a risk assessment before using it. In reality, the boards are heavy and don’t work well in the rain. The novelty soon wore off and my daughter now gets the bus to school.
- The awkward meeting in the principal’s office comes directly from my own grade 5 experience
For a while, I went to a very strict girls school in Sydney, Australia. I was often in trouble for not wearing my hat and gloves, running in the school building, not having an ironed hankie in my pocket or failing to learn a poem for elocution class. I remember walking into the principal’s office with its 1970s white shag carpet, wondering if I was leaving muddy footprints and sitting in front of a huge desk. I spent most of the meeting looking out of the window at a field hockey game. I used these memories when writing about Maddie’s meeting with Mr. Richardson.
Memories, conversations, newspaper articles, chance encounters with strangers and imagination can all lead to fertile material for fiction. For me, the important thing is whether the inspiration fits the story. Would Maddie do, say and think the things I’m suggesting? Is there enough truth in the events for the reader to suspend their disbelief and enter the fictional world of Maddie and her friends?
Where do you get your inspiration?