Where Do Your Ideas Come From? - Rehashed

From the December, 2022 Newsletter

I discussed this in a newsletter over over a year ago, but I was recently asked the question yet again So, I thought it warranted some expansion.

One of my favorite books--I've talked about it before--is Richelle Mead's Succubus Blues. In it, there's an ongoing debate over the above question. Georgina, the succubus, thinks it's lame for readers to ask that question, but Seth, her author crush, insists it's a legitimate question for readers to ask.

I do, too.

I mean, if you follow an author for any length of time, don't you at some point, in amazement, ask, "How in the world did he/she come up with this?" I imagine Stephen King has figured out a way to work through his nightmares. I think Dean Koontz must be working through some conspiracy theory paranoias that plague him.

The thing is, everyone has ideas. We all have crazy thoughts, don't we? Uh ... don't we?

You know, maybe I'm making a false assumption here. It could be it's just me--and a bunch of folks I hang out with. For the sake of this newsletter, though, I'm sticking with the hypothesis.

So, the difference between the ideas that earth people and authors have is, an earth person will go, "That's crazy. What the hell was I thinking?" An author, however, will poke and prod at it and massage it a hundred different ways until it starts to make sense. For me, I don't even wait for it to make sense. I generally start writing, hoping it will start to make sense as I go along.

Yes, authors' ideas have a lot to do with obsession.

And I guess that answers the question, but ...

I remember an interview with the singer/songwriter Sting some years ago--I think it was in Rolling Stone--where the question was posed to him. He claimed most of his inspiration came from long walks in the forests around his estate. Well, Sting and I have a lot in common. Not the estate--nor the talent. But I get most of my ideas while hiking in the woods. It's where my mind feels most free to roam, and it's where I usually work out the major plot points in all my novels.

But the initial inspiration for the Red Wolf Saga came from a different place altogether. I had gone back to college to train for a new career, and I had taken a keyboarding course as an easy elective outside my major curriculum. I was sitting in a study room at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, practicing some typing exercises--bored out of my mind--when I overheard two young coeds gushing over some hot actor who played a vampire role in one of the TV shows at the time. (Vampire Diaries? True Blood? I can't remember.)

I've never been a fan of vampires--sucking blood is gross. I'm a werewolf guy--ripping out throats under the influence of the full moon is fine with me. And I thought, "I bet all the werewolves are really jealous of how popular vampires seem to be all of a sudden." I was bored--like I said, out of my mind--so, I dropped the typing exercise and went freestyle with a speculative entry into a jealous werewolf's journal. Over the next few months, obsession took over, and the Red Wolf Saga was born.


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