Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Story of Inspiration: Nathan Fillion and Nate Mallory

As I try to focus on what my next project will be (a sequel to my other WIP, or an entirely different story--a murder mystery in space!), I have been thinking a lot about inspiration. See, I never really know what will have the most influence on a work until after I'm done. It's not just that things get cut (and they do), but it's also that I don't know where the story's going unitl after it's finished.

So I've been thinking a lot about how inspiration played out in my most recent WIP. Recently, I posted about Audrey Hepburn and Malta, but now it's time for some naked Mal.

If I'm going to have a picture of Nathan Fillion,
then why not a picture of naked Nathan Fillion?

The character Nate Mallory, the bad guy of my manuscript, was inspired by Nathan Fillion, a charming actor and all around good guy. The source of the inspiration is specifically from one show that Nathan starred in: Firefly. (The show is still on SciFi channel, by the way, even though Evil-Corporate-Overlord-FOX killed it.)

Firefly: The best television show ever made. Ever.

Originally, the inspiration for Nate Mallory lay only in the name: the actor's name Nathan Fillion contributed my character's first name, Nate, and Fillion's character's name Captain Mal Reynolds, became the last name for my character: Mallory. I wanted Mallory because of my Latin roots: the nickname Mal is reminiscent of the Latin word for "bad," and I used the name as a subtle hint that the character was the bad guy.

Of course, anyone who knows the show Firefly knows that Mal is actually the good guy. But that's not to say that my Mallory doesn't have any influence from this Mal. In Firefly, Mal flip-flops between right and wrong--he's a realistic guy who struggles with what the best thing to do may be, although he ultimately always makes decisions for what's good. My Mal also struggled between right and wrong...he just ultimately went for what's wrong.

Personality also played a part in it. Captain Mal is fun, but an action-orientated guy. He doesn't wait around for discussion. Neither does my Mr. Mallory. Captain Mal attracts people to him with his good personality and natural leadership abilities. So does my Mr. Mallory. Captain Mal is something of a sci-fi space cowboy--I put my Mr. Mallory in scuffed cowboy boots.

All of these sprinklings of inspiration are subtle. The husband, who loves Firefly more than me, didn't notice that Mr. Mallory was inspired by Captain Mal. But that's OK. I think the best kinds of inspiration are usually the subtle ones. I didn't want Mr. Mallory to be Captain Mal--I wanted him to be his own distinct character--but one who, maybe five hundred years in the future, might have co-captained the Firefly ship.
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