The question ‘where do you get your inspiration from?’ can be a bit of a loaded one, depending on who is asking it. Depending on the book. Sometimes, particularly with women writers, it can be angled a certain way, demanding bits of your life to consume bite by bite, whether you’re comfortable with it or not. I don’t think there’s any one answer a lot of the time. Inspiration comes from all over, and once it hits you, more and more things become inspiring. The shimmer of the moonlight on the water. A mangled bird against a windowpane.
Perfectly Preventable Deaths came from a conversation with my partner over chips, I liked the idea of a town where everyone was something, because we all have our own narrative, our own baggage, our day to day joys and heartbreaks. You cannot scratch the surface of a person right away. You simply can’t. And magic heightens that. I also wanted to explore what would really happen if a teenage girl started going out with an old and hungry thing. What that kind of love would do to a person, where it would lead. I also liked the idea of a patchwork quilt of a castle, a house with so many rooms that you could scream and scream and not be heard.
If books grow from other books, the character of Mamó grew from Granny Weatherwax and Nano Hayes. Wyrd Sisters was one of my favourite books growing up, and I adored Micheal Scott’s collections of fairytales and folklore. I wanted to explore the murkier aspects of a mentor mentee relationship, and the lengths to which Mamó was prepared to go to ensure she could train Maddy. I also read a lot of books on herbalism and plant-based healing, as well as some books on witchcraft and the occult. I did two courses in herbalism and one in the tarot. I wanted the twins’ magic to be intuitive and linked to who they are, but also grounded in the real world, and researching different magical paths and practices helped with this a lot.
Precious Catastrophe is a story I had been longing to tell, and I had been gathering inspiration for it for the seven years I’d been writing Perfectly Preventable Deaths, knowing what I wanted to happen, and just waiting for the right time to explore it. I relished the opportunity to return to Madeline and Catlin and explore their world a little more.
Written by Deirdre Sullivan, author of Perfectly Preventable Deaths and Precious Catastrophe.