The Muse Series: Stephen Makk, Creativity & Imagery

Many moons ago, a story came to me.  Not in a flash.  Not as a gentle zephyr that whispered past my ear. No.  It came in the form of a mental snapshot of a New York City orange cone with steam billowing out of the top.

Fury book inspiration

All I could do, that Spring afternoon, was wonder, What if there’s a demon lurking in the mist trying waiting to jump into the body of a passer-by…

The questions kept coming and after a good 15-minute walk, I had the core of my horror novel Fury From Hell.  And this all came from a visual that kept replaying in my mind’s eye.

I wondered if other writers had similar stimuli from photography, imagery, or Nature.  As you can imagine, I am not alone.

This will be a regular series (always on a Wednesday!) featuring authors from across the country, and from around the world, who will give us all a peek into their creative processes as it relates to their writing and imagery.

Stephen Makk

When I originally posed this question of creativity and imagery to Stephen (way back in December 2015), he told me, “I can’t say that any of my pictures have inspired any of my books.  I can think of a character, and a scene, being on my mind when writing.  I must be honest, [pictures are] marginal in inspiration for me.  However, it’s not a concept I’ve really engaged with but I will explore it.”

I revisited this topic with Stephen earlier this month and I am super excited to share what Stephen said…

Pictures can inspire me, mostly sparking off part, or the whole of a scene.  One did partly inspire the current book I’m working on.  [A picture] did inspire a character in my, so far three book series.  I was about to say that this hasn’t always been the case but thinking about it, maybe that’s not true.

My first book ‘The Kali Option,’ and its cover, was partly inspired by the street art you see in gable end walls in Belfast (both IRA and loyalist forms).  I imagined the Hindu Goddess, Kali, on a gable end with hood and an AK47.  I ended up with a book where the IRA are dispatched to Delhi to carry out a dirty deed.

A character was inspired by this picture of a girl (see below) in Yakutsk, Siberia.  I needed a Russian Siberian female naval officer.  [The girl in the picture] became Irina and is a leading character in, ‘Beneath Sunless Waves: A Fall into Darkness and Deception Abyss.’  (Irina comes from Yakutsk in the novels.)

Lastly, the squid eye pictures caused me to start a scene differently and more imaginatively in, ‘A Fall Into Darkness.’  I needed a nuclear submarine to arrive at a certain location next to the wreck of an aircraft.  Remembering the pictures I’d seen the day before, I decided to write the arrival from the perspective of a shoal of squid.  How would they see this?  Thousands of eyes staring at this whale with odd skin and a sweet taste.

stephen makk_Irina

Stephen Makk_Kali Option_cvr

stephen makk_wall image

stephen makk_squid 1

stephen makk_squid 2

You can find Stephen Makk, and his books via the links below.

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Stephen’s website:

Stephen on Twitter:

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Thank you for stopping by!  Be sure to visit again next Wednesday and read about Tui Snider and Morgan DragonWillow meld ‘artsy and seemingly abstract photos’ in their written endeavors.

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Rochelle Written by:

Writer. Dreamer. Lover of Life. Photographer.
I bring all of these elements to my work and share it with you.
Enjoy the ride!

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