My Writing Process: Dust on the Altar’s Inspiration

Today’s short post is about the inspiration that helped me create my debut novel. Dust on the Altar came to me in pieces. By the time National Novel Writing Month 2015 (A.K.A. NaNoWriMo) was about to start, I had the title, premise, and one scene figured out.

The three parts of my inspiration: title, premise, scene.

I thought up the title, Dust on the Altar, when I noticed my altar was a bit dusty. I hadn’t written stories in years, but it seemed like it might make for a good title. Title for what? I had no idea. Much later, as I began writing and got further into the heart of the story, I realized the title stood for more than just a failure at housekeeping. But that’s a story for another time.

The premise came to me when I was driving by a church on my way home. I thought about how when someone says they had a loss of faith, I immediately think of Christian faith.

But what if a witch lost her faith in magic?

What could make that happen, and what could make her regain it?

Last, a pivotal scene. There’s a scene in the movie Interview with the Vampire that has stuck with me for years, occasionally coming to mind. It’s when the main character’s vampire daughter and her newfound vampire mother are burned to death by the sun, and the main character finds them the next night. Two burned bodies still clinging to each other. He reaches out to them, and the forms disintegrate at his touch. It’s quite gruesome and tragic.

When I tried NaNoWriMo that year, I wasn’t sure I would win. 50,000 words in 30 days sounded out of reach for someone who hadn’t written in years. But something in me said I might as well try, so I did. Going back to the questions I had about losing faith, one reason I thought a witch might lose their faith in magic is if it failed them. If they lost their parents at a young age and magic couldn’t bring them back. I used the imagery from the movie to anchor the scene of a young witch finding her parents burned alive in their home. She tries to revive them with magic, but it fails her.

When I finished writing that scene and found that I had more to write, I was fully committed. I put the three inspirations I’d recently had together and won NaNoWriMo that year.

Dust on the Altar is the story of Jade, a reluctant witch, who, after fleeing her traumatic past, must regain the powers she abandoned to take her rightful place as coven leader and bring her aunt’s killer to justice.

For the month of October, I plan on sharing more insights into this story. I hope you enjoy, and perhaps find inspiration for your own.

Let's chat! :) Let me know what you think.