Diane Whiteside's The Shadow Guard Is Inspired By ...

From classic cinema to a popular novel series and an animated movie, today author Diane Whiteside gives us a behind the scenes look at some of the sources of inspiration that she wove into the major players in her new Urban Fantasy novel, The Shadow Guard!

Many different things can inspire a story. Heck, sometimes it just springs to life in an author’s brain and defies the poor soul to think about anything else until it’s written down. The Shadow Guard, my April 2011 release from Brava, mercifully had three main inspirations.

First, Ingrid Bergman has always fascinated me. Casablanca – who can forget Humphrey Bogart’s immortal line, “here’s looking at you, kid?” You always knew why that hardened man of the world could never forget her.  

In Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Notorious, she portrays a fragile beauty who discovers inner strength amid betrayal on all sides, including from those she should be able to trust, and saves her country. Cary Grant, as the hero, doesn’t trust her but still finds himself falling in love.  

Second, I love how J.D. Robb’s long-running In Death series keeps finding new facets to explore in Eve Dallas and Roarke’s relationship. I wanted a hero and heroine like that – who could have a deep-seated conflict but still work together and grow closer.  

Jake Hammond, The Shadow Guard’s hero, is a homicide cop like Eve Dallas. He considers himself the speaker for the dead and every life is infinitely precious to him. On the other hand, Astrid has protected the entire United States for more than a century. To her, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. They’re both right and yet frequently in conflict. Finding common ground between them was positively inspirational for me as a writer since it gave me so many options.

Third, I confess that I like writing magic. But I wanted to do something a wee bit different. The questions was how? So I pondered.

Astrid’s core strength as a mage is scrying, the ability to see what has happened. I’ll admit that I love big action movies, especially the type with lots of special effects. (And I adore watching how-did-they-do-that shows about said special effects, too!)

One day, the local movie channel was having a festival of old Pixar movies and they showed Young Sherlock Holmes. During this, a stained glass window comes to life, jumps down (still translucent and two-dimensional) into the church, and duels the priest. I was dumbstruck and wound up watching the scene again and again.

What if magic was based on light, like movies or prisms? What if magic looked like animation filmstrips, simple and clear as a stained glass window but becoming more and more solid as images were layered on? What if magic was as strong as the draw to Disney World and Disneyland’s Animation Houses to see movies being made? What if it lasted as long or longer than the hours I’ve spent studying Tiffany stained glass windows? What if…

- Diane Whiteside

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