Thought I'd share the main story inspiration for Dollhouse. I stumbled across this animated short a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The story and the setting worked perfectly together to give the viewer enough of a creepy factor without overstating things.
What I love the most was the fact that the story, which is so simple and pretty bare, still manages to make the viewer connect the dots through little hints here and there. Little details about the dolls, the shop's facade, the purpose of the wall and its graffiti, etc.
In the case of Dollhouse, Arthur's lured away from the safety of the crowd to hide inside a strange little toy shop filled with a mix of finished and half-finished dolls and trifles through the gentle persuasiveness of a disembodied voice. Anything supernatural in this book is more overtly insidious than its inspiration, though I did manage to attempt a subtler form of evil through the presence of the tower house, which is a character in and of itself.
Another outstanding feature about Alma is the use of passive influences that lure the girl inside the shop. The doll resembling her standing front and center in the display window. The door opening when before it was locked (likely an initial test or a way of rousing the kid's determination to enter). Then little by little, the doll draws her away from the door and the safety of the outside world.
Oh, and the music - very carnival-like and creepy - only adds to the darker shades of the story.
There's nothing passive about the supernatural forces that influence Arthur. Everything behind the wish he makes as a lonely orphan is through an invisible agent that's actively claiming a child's soul through emotional manipulation.
And, incidentally, "Alma" is Spanish for "soul". So there's that as well.
Automata is also inspired by art, but it's not an animated short film; rather, it's a song from the late 1960s (or early 1970s). I'll talk about it more once the novel's done.
I also dropped a hint before about a possible story idea percolating in the old brain that may lead to a third book in the Curiosities series. I haven't talked about that yet since it's still in unicellular-organism-in-petri-dish mode. I've been tossing a random idea for it now and then - or whenever I think about it, anyway - and things are very, very slowly taking form, but I'm still too focused on getting my current WIPs out of the way first to do much more than entertain a possible plot or so.
I suppose the only thing sure about it is the title, which is Eidolon, should the story actually sprout wings and take flight.
And in case you missed all the squealing and fist-pumping from me, Dollhouse is now available in both e-book and print formats.