The Story Behind The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

The tale of Marra began because I wanted – very much – to write something for the sheer pleasure of writing.

That’s a real luxury these days.

The Birr ElixirMarra herself was an online character from a game. Somehow over the years, she’d developed quite a personality with her shyness and self-doubt. She was going down a very dark rabbit hole, and though not unaware, hadn’t really dared examine that path.

Probably because she’d gotten caught up in the illusion that she had no choice. I suppose we all get caught up in that from time to time. We just need a little courage to step out of the norm and walk in a new direction.

So life, as is its nature, forced her hand.

As you can see, Marra had been speaking to me for years. One day I simply sat down and took notes. The Birr Elixir springs from that.

Drail, I think, is a mixture of some of the athletes I got to talk to in real life. He has a nobility about him, in that he believes in fairness. Unlike Marra, he trusts in his own abilities. He loves to win – and believes ultimately he will.

I’m not sure where Tryst came from, really. I sat down to write Marra’s story, and the first thing to appear on the page was a cliff hanger – literally. Tryst was the hang-ee.

Startled at this opening and character, curiosity compelled me to backtrack and find out who he was.

His story turned out to mirror Marra’s. He, too, was traveling down a narrow path, although most of us would think it a beautiful destination instead of a fearful one. But while he would live in a palace, his choices would be fewer than Marra’s. And he’d be even less aware of them.

In Tryst’s case, his own father pushed him out of the nest. It just turned out to be a much longer drop than anyone expected.

The creative process for me is one of playing with an idea, sort of like my dog Oscar and his bone. (It’s a Nylabone, for you animal lovers.) And at some point the tale takes on a life of its own. The characters stand up, breath deep, and sprint off. I’m suddenly running just to keep up.

In all honesty I just take notes on what they do. They never fail to surprise me.


Jo SparkesA well-known Century City Producer once said Jo Sparkes “writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”

Jo graduated from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program, forgot about writing totally, until she had a chance to study with Robert Powell, a student of renowned teachers Lew Hunter and Richard Walter, head of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.

She has written feature film scripts, scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, and commercial work for corporate clients. A featured writer on several websites, she was a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and (very unofficially) the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he came to the Arizona Cardinals.

Jo served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, and even made a video of her most beloved lecture.

Her book for writers and artists, “Feedback How to Give It How to Get It” has received glowing reviews.

When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

Her latest book is the fantasy, The Birr Elixir.

You can visit her website at or connect with her at twitter at


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