The Inspiration for THIN AIR, by Lynn Seresin
Some writers are visited by inspiration in the form of a dream (I’m talking about you, Stephanie Meyer). For others, the experience is more like a lightning bolt striking out of the blue (Sound like anyone you know, J. K. Rowling?) I only wish I could come up with an “inspiration story” for THIN AIR that was half as interesting as the experiences of these two authors. The truth is…well…not nearly as impressive.
I sort of backed into the story concept for THIN AIR, largely because of a novel I’d written that hadn’t worked out. I’d spent months working on a sci-fi/alien romance, primarily because I have always been a huge sci-fi fan and I’m one of those readers who respond to a romance at the heart of a book. I tried to combine the two, and what came out wasn’t entirely hopeless, but it just didn’t hold together the way I (or any literary agents, for that matter) would have liked it to. So, it sat in my computer, doing little more than reminding me I’d wasted months on a book that clearly wasn’t meant to be.
Well, not entirely wasted…
This failed novel required that I come up with some “alien” life forms. In addition to the Vogs (the bad guys—the word “vog” is real; a combination of “volcano” and “fog” that describes a form of air pollution that results from volcanic eruption), I pulled the word “sylph” out of the air (no pun intended) to describe the ghostly form of my main character’s deceased mother. I only had a vague idea what the word meant—a graceful, slim woman—but I liked the sound of it, and it seemed to suit the ethereal nature of the character I was naming. I guess the word lodged in my brain because when I began to think about the next book I wanted to write, I found myself doing research on the origin of the term. That’s when I stumbled on The Secret Teachings of the Ages, by Manly P. Hall, and discovered the rich mythology surrounding elemental spirits.
I’ve also always been a fan of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, especially the one about a water spirit called “The Little Mermaid”. As the story of THIN AIR began to come together in my mind, I infused it with various details from the Andersen classic, while putting my own spin on things. The mermaid became a sylphid; the Sea Witch, the gnome king, Gob; the handsome prince was swapped out for a drool-worthy NYU student; and my main character traded her wings, rather than her voice, for the opportunity to become human. Add a New York City setting, a jealous king, a few serial killers, and presto! THIN AIR was born.
The world of THIN AIR is one of my own making, built on a foundation of rich mythology—with a generous sprinkling of Andersen’s classic fairytale to make it sparkle. I can only hope that Alice’s unique experience, and the characters who share it, capture your imagination and heart as much as “The Little Mermaid” and the elemental world captivated mine.
Thanks so much Lynn!
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