posted on August 5, 2013 by Beth Ciotta

When Art Inspires Art

HCC_Cover_finalI’ve been writing professionally for several years and have multiple published books in various sub-genres to my credit. No matter what I’m writing—contemporary, paranormal, steampunk, historical—I always get the same question.

Where do you get your ideas? 

Some ideas spring from life experiences—people I’ve known, things I’ve done.  Some of the more fantastical ideas sprout from my fertile imagination. That’s not to say they’re purely original and come out of nowhere. At some point something I saw or heard (or both) wiggled into my brain and stuck there. Over the years, various impressions simmered and melded, some of them blossoming into story ideas. My unique spin His Broken Angel cover_FINALon a literary adventure—often influenced by films. Although I love to read and have always enjoyed losing myself in a page-turning book, I am and have always been most inspired by the more visual aspect of storytelling.  When I’m writing a book, the characters always come to life and I can “see and hear” the story in my head, playing out like a movie.

This is especially true of my genre-bending steampunk series—The Glorious Victorious Darcys. Without a doubt, several movies that I watched over the years, some of them rooted in my childhood, inspired the “idea” that evolved into a full blown series based on a unique, alternate world. My not-so-secret formula: Fiction + History + Imagination = The Victorian Age meets the Age of Aquarius. A myriad of elements contribute to this fantastical period. The 1880s, 1960s, Victorian and hippy culture, time travel, supernatural gifts, mystery, adventure, romance, anachronistic gadgets and gizmos, airships and automatons.

HerSkyCowboy.inddI had a blast writing the first book in the series—Her Sky Cowboy—although I wondered if readers would garner the same thrills.  I was blown away when the critical reviews rolled in, many praising the imaginative premise. The subsequent book—His Clockwork Canary—was greeted with equal praise. As deliciously described by Publishers Weekly…

Cleverly mixing Simon and Willie’s chase for glory with interludes of knee-buckling amatory rapture and hissable flashes of archvillain Lord Bingham, Ciotta rockets raunchily along to a spectacular finale. This audacious fantasy romance will have readers goggle-eyed and thirsting for more.”

So what kind of “steampunk-ish” movies inspired these wild and fantastical adventures? To name just a few…

  • The Great Race
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • The Time Machine
  • Time after Time
  • Wild Wild West
  • Treasure Planet
  • Stardust
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Van Helsing
  • Firefly (TV series) and connected the movie, Serenity
  • 9
  • Sherlock Holmes (The versions starring Robert Downing Jr.)

If you’ve seen any of these movies, you’ll see how they influenced the worldbuilding in The Glorious Victorious Darcys. What sets this series apart and made it uniquely me was the melding of the two time periods . . . and my imagination.

Imagine the 1960s. Race riots. Viet Nam. The Cuban Missile Crisis.

Imagine a group of fanatical peace activists happening upon a means of time travel and jumping back to the source of departure, the mid-1800s, in hopes of altering the future and avoiding specific global atrocities.

Beth C_BW6Imagine their good intentions going horribly wrong and, instead, the two centuries meld setting the world on an unknown course.

I imagined and ended up with a spectacular and endearing alternate era. Art inspired art and The Glorious Victorious Darcys were born.

Have you been inspired or greatly touched by a movie or a song or painting?  Do share!

Beth Ciotta

Beth Ciotta

Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed “fun and sexy” by Publishers Weekly, Beth specializes in writing Romantic Comedy with a Twist of Suspense and is published in contemporary, historical, steampunk, and paranormal romantic fiction. “I can't think of anything more fulfilling than writing stories where everyone (except the villain, of course) gets a happy ending!”

Beth lives in NJ with her husband, two zany dogs, and a crazy cat. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing. To learn more about her colorful life, visit her website at

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