Monday, July 14, 2014

Christina Hollis - The Dangers of Pure Imagination
Walters Art Museum
I've just finished writing a novel, Bright Danger, which  centres around the discovery of a priceless work of art. Everything about my story is completely fictional, including the beautiful gold and lapis necklace at its heart. I work with inspiration boards pinned with pictures of locations and characters to keep me on track, but there was one glaring omission from Bright Danger's Work In Progress file. I didn't have a picture of the necklace, because it didn't exist.

The idea had come to me in a dream one night. It was after a visit to the British Museum, although as far as I know my imaginary necklace is unique. When I scribbled down the details next morning (I knew keeping a notebook beside the bed was a good idea!) I didn't realise this would pose any sort of problem. It's only now, when I'm going to be working with a cover artist, that I've discovered a big problem. I can't find pictures of anything online that remotely resembles the pictures inside my head.

The closest I've come to it is the beautiful Byzantine necklace you can see here (above). Unfortunately, it's more likely to have been worn by Elena in my latest release, Jewel Under Siege, than by Julia from Ancient Rome. All this has made me  think twice about the things to include in my next book. Online, images are everything. If a picture can't be produced, a piece lacks impact. Bright Danger will definitely have a suitable picture on the cover, but how closely it fits with my idea is something that will need work.

I wish now I'd found a picture to write about, rather than relying on pure imagination. I'm not keen on the idea of sorting out loads of royalty-free images for an inspiration board before I start writing my next book. It might take away all the spontanaeity. On the other hand, I might come across something unexpected which fires my imagination. Don't you love being distracted like that, when you should be looking for something else entirely?

Have you ever been inspired by a work of art? Comment to be entered into a lucky dip for the chance to win a signed book from my backlist.

Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction - when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. You can catch up with her at, on Twitter and Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at If you'd like to keep up to date with the progress of Bright Danger, email Christina at christinahollis(at)


Mary Preston said...

I love my craft work. Often when out and about, or on the internet, I will see something that just grabs hold of me. I will try to capture that beauty and wonder when I embroider, knit, sew or crochet.

Christina Hollis said...

Skill in crafts like those is something I really envy, Mary. When my sister was studying soft sculpture, we went to see a sewn panorama of the Herefordshire countryside. It was almost as beautiful as the real thing! Thanks for commenting.

Christina Hollis said...

Congratulations, Mary, you've won a signed book from my backlist! If you send an email with your snail-mail address to christinahollis(at), I'll get your prize in the post. Thanks again for taking part.

Mary Preston said...

Will do thank you!!