Off the Wall Inspiration

SFR Brigade showcase

Once a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new releases, works in progress, cover reveals or other fun things. Check out all of this month’s participants.

My topic for this month is a wall.  Specifically, the office wall behind my desk, and how it inspires me.


I have more art scattered around my office.

It’s pretty unusual for an Arizona author to decorate with Northwest Coast Indian art, but most of these pieces date from when I lived in British Columbia.  I’ve written elsewhere about stumbling upon a decayed totem pole while teaching at a one-room school on a remote, upcoast island.  My love for indigenous art stems from this period in my life.

OffTheWall - feather

Eagle feather, 2 feet high. (Author’s collection)

Not only do I collect native art, I incorporate Northwest Coast cultures into my writing. My Alien Contact series describes how an Indian nation from the future ‘hops’ to our Earth and instantly becomes the most advanced culture on the planet.

<< == >>

Seattle, Washington. The early hours of April 1, next year.

In Alien Contact for Idiots, a duplicate of Vancouver Island appears overnight off the coast of Washington State.  The natives used 23rd century technology to move their entire island nation away from environmental collapse to our Earth.

Seattle biologist Ell Harmon makes first alien contact with Tro Eaglesbrood, the island’s leader, and ends up quarantined with him.  Of course, they fall in love.  (Hey, this is science fiction romance, after all!)

<< == >>

Time: Two years from the next Friday the 13th
Place: A Pacific Northwest island that does not exist…yet

OffTheWall - mast

Portrait of the Author as a Young Man (Author’s collection)

In Alien Contact for Kid Sisters Ell’s sister, Marianne, flees murderous rebels and finds a hero to protect her … or is he kidnapping her, instead?

Quinn Lebatarde is a scam artist selling phony Kwadran masks to tourists.  Fleeing the police, he stumbles on Marianne.  Undecided whether to kidnapper or kiss her, he leads her on a merry chase through Kwadra Island’s abandoned underground cities, pursued by killers.

<< == >>

OffTheWall - Salmon Spirit

Salmon spirit. (Given to the author while teaching on Gilford Island)

In Rescuing Prince Charming (available December, 2017), Tro Eaglesbrood’s brother, Reese, heads a cooperative project with American, Mexican, and Canadian scientists to build this Earth’s first starship.  Success will rebuild his shattered reputation; failure is unthinkable.   So is falling in love with Dusty Johnson, a heroic American technical writer.

At one point, Reese studies the Salmon Spirit picture at left, by well known Kwakiutl artist Allen James. This is the most blatant example of the inspiration that comes off my wall — but it won’t be the last!

thumbnail Alien Contact for Idiots12

Alien Contact for Kid Sisters


Be sure to check out other SFR Brigade participants.

How about you? Do you have any decorations or collections that inspire you? I love to hear from you, so tell me about it in a comment.



  1. I find masks quite scary – something about that fixed expression and empty eyes when they aren’t being worn chills me. It’s also why one of my antagonist’s wears one. >_<
    As for collections – SciFi props, figures and posters. Seashells. I used to collect perfume bottles, both because I love scents (natural rather than the overpriced chemicals endorsed by celebrities) but also because I love colored glass and the interesting shapes, especially Art Deco/Art Nouveau periods. Shiny things.

    1. The mask pictured above is a Kwakiutl ancestor mask, worn at ceremonies and the like. With an ancestor like that, I have to wonder what the people behind the masks looked like. Maybe the mask was an improvement.

      As for your collection, Pippa — shiny!

  2. Yay for PNW love! We have something else in common besides SFR it seems. I recently saw an old silent (long lost movie made here in Tacoma) called “The Eyes of the Totem” which featured our city totem pole. I love PNW native art. Though it’s not in my personal style, I’m attracted to the simplicity of the cuts and styles. Thank you for sharing your collection and your words.

    1. I haven’t heard of The Eyes of the Totem, but there’s another PNW silent flick that I recommend: In the Land of the War Canoes. Edward Curtis, famous for photographing Indians across the west, paid members of the Kwakiutl tribe for two years to make enough traditional masks, totems, canoes, totems, etc, for the movie. Beyond doubt, it’s Curtis’s magnum opus … but it flopped at the box office, and Curtis went bankrupt.

  3. Love your art collection, Ed. My family has roots in the PNW, so naturally your books are on my “must read” list. 🙂

    1. Wonderful, Lea. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Interesting collection and connection to your stories! I collect all sorts of oddities, shells, pictures of animals, even books.

    1. The earliest item in the collection, and the most valuable, is the Salmon Spirit shown above. Parents of my students chipped to pay the artist (who lived on Gilford) $10. Now that he’s dead, the cheapest Allen James painting I’ve seen is $2500. It isn’t just us writers who get screwed!

  5. Great collection – I LOVE the wooden arrow the best.

    1. Yes, the arrow is one of my favorites too. It’s a recent addition, bought back in 2013 from a couple of street carvers in Vancouver. You can watch them work as well as buy from them. I don’t know that their work is collector quality, but it sure is cheaper than the stuff in one of the many stores that specialize in Indian art.

  6. Always fascinating to learn more about the inspirations behind an author’s writing. Really enjoyed the post!

    1. Lots of things from my past find their way into my books. I imagine that’s true for you as well, Veronica.

  7. Yay for one room schools–I taught one in Montana many years ago. Super collection.

    1. That’s a pretty big thing for us to have in common, Melissa! We’re a very tiny minority, us one-room school teachers.

      Echo Bay School had grades 1 through 7; my wife, also a teacher, served as an unpaid teacher’s aide, which is the only reason the grade ones learned to read. One student walked to school because his float house had a ramp connecting it to the shore but the others lived on distant coves and came in a school boat, the Kingcome Queen.

      The school was isolated. The only way in or out was float plane, unless you had a large boat and tons of experience, because the currents in the maze of islands were ferocious. The channel in front of the school drained a fiord 80 miles long, so you can image how much water sloshed in and out with the tides. We got to the outside world only at Christmas time.

      The next year we moved to a big city of 150 people, where we taught at a two-room log cabin school. And Judi got paid. Woohoo! I wouldn’t go back to either place, but I wouldn’t give up the memories for anything. The experiences have enriched my writing on numerous occasions.

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