Paper Towns #readersacrosstheworld Project: Week 1 with Janae Mitchell!

Inspiration can come from many things, including books and places. Even as a small child, I’d read a book and it would inspire me to think about that world and how it differed from, or resembled, mine. Or I’d visit a place and it would make me think about the people who lived there, wishing I knew more about their lives. Needless to say, my love of reading led to a love for writing, and my love of the small, historic town I once lived in led to my first novel.

 A photo taken at The Revolutionary War Graveyard in Dandridge,

TN, where an actual scene from For Always took place.

Living in a house that was once slave quarters during the Civil War, we had many strange things happened, which led us to believe our house was haunted. Because of this, I became intrigued by the paranormal. The beautiful, historic town of Dandridge, TN, where we lived, only added to this interest. As you walk down the streets of this tiny, little town, it’s like the history around you comes alive, making the ghosts of the past almost feel like they are walking among us. I love it, and this love of a small town, as well as my fascination with the paranormal, inspired my very first published YA paranormal romance, For Always.

This novel takes place in Dandridge, where many readers have actually taken pictures of themselves at certain book locations and sent to me. There’s even a cemetery right in the middle of Downtown where several scenes in this series take place, which local readers of Dandridge seem to love, visualizing the story as they drive through town. Aside from this town being an inspiration for my first novel, my first novel has actually become an inspiration for me, taking on a life of its own, it seems.

When I wrote For Always, I never thought it would be something that anyone would read, let alone become published, with thousands of copies downloaded within a few months time. I also never thought readers would love this story and the characters as much as I do. So, when I started getting messages about how this series got someone into reading again, or how it’s someone’s favorite series ever, and the fact that I still get messages and comments like this, it inspires me to continue to write. There are several other books and authors that I take inspiration from, but For Always is the most personal one.

Putting so much of myself into my characters, they each have a part of me in them, and vice-versa. To this day, one of the quotes I say the most often (even more than Harry Potter) is one from my main character, Malyn Reed. “Sometimes keeping your mouth shut and not saying a word takes more strength than opening it and saying a thousand.” When I want to blow up on someone, or voice my opinion, when that opinion won’t add anything to the conversation or topic at hand, I say this quote to myself, biting my tongue. My characters seem to inspire me to be a better person, not only when it comes to writing, but in my everyday life. So, if you see this quote pop up randomly on my news-feed, you’ll know I’m having one of those moments.

When it comes to books, especially those I love, I don’t just read them, I devour them, highlighting those lines that take my breath away, re-reading them again and again. Books, including mine, are mostly written to tell a story, however, that story can light a fire inside us, inspiring us to do things we may not have done otherwise. Harry Potter makes us believe in magic, transporting us to a place muggles would never be allowed to go had it not been for J.K. Rowling. Twilight gave a new birth to YA readers across the globe, including me, causing us to embrace that once forgotten love of reading. The Hunger Games made us want to unite for a greater cause *hold up three fingers & insert whistle here*. They’re not just stories for some of us. For some of us, they are a part of us; a world we are a part of each time we open that book or think about that character, who we feel like we actually know, not just read about.

No matter if it’s Dandridge, TN… Forks, Washington… or Hogwarts… it’s home to us for as long as we like; or at least until we close the book.

 

 

 

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