This is a repost of my post to the Amber Quill blog.
I finally got The Question. You know the one, "Where do you get your ideas?"
I took a page from the late, great Lewis Grizzard and said, "I subscribe to a service in North Dakota. $10 a month and they send me three ideas a week."
In reality, anything can start a story. Ideas are all around us. Comedian Carl Hurley says, "I don't make anything up, I just watch folks and tell it like it is." Well, as a writer, I tell it like it isn't. But I do observe and I do record and everything is grist for the mill.
For instance, my first stand-alone short story came because an editor said "I need a 10,000 word Christmas story. Any topic." I kicked it around a little and remembered the old superstition that children born on Christmas Day are werewolves. I remembered being on the old vampyres@guvm mailinglist. And I put it together and got a couple of thoroughly modern creatures of the night who meet on mailing-lists, play computer games, shop, host parties and watch DVDs. And have a lot of sex.
I've had stories come out of role-playing games, songs, fragments of old legend, my husband's boardgame collection and my job.
For instance Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists came about because my muse was having a really bad day. He and Naomi's muse sat down and started talking. They decided they wanted to travel, to do a historical.
It sounded something like this:
Nick: You can be the handsome globe-trotting adventurer and I your devoted comapnion
T: With little round glasses?
Nick: Oh. You like me in the glasses...and a bow tie. We'll skip the sweartervest.
T: *amused look* My secretary. Who keeps my affairs in order because I'm far too adventurous.
Nick: Oh, I like that. Fluttering after you trailing papers and pencils. And I can be cute and really bubbly
T: And I can be naturally dashing.
Nick: and we can explore and have adventures and have lots of exotic sex
And they worked out names and occupations, decided it was a pulp, then ambushed me in the grocery store and made me scribble the opening on my list, somewhere between the tortillas and toilet paper.
There are stories that started as missing scenes in other stories. "Collared Hearts" came out of "Tuition Fees," a private Christmas present scene between Nick and Chris.
The moral of this entry:
1) Inspiration can come from anything.
2) Always carry something to write with and on.
3) Always pay your North Dakota Idea Service promptly.