Readers (and other writers) have been known to ask where the ideas come from. In my case, they can come from almost anywhere. Using what I have published so far as examples, here are samples of the sources of some of my muse and my imaginative worlds.
The Dark Lady. I looked up at the TV and caught a glimpse of an actress’s face. I thought, she could play the part of an evil queen with that look. My mind then wandered off to, I wonder how evil queens get their reputation, followed by, how would I write that story? The plot came from there, although I admit that the mediaeval fantasy novel subsequently became more inspired by the life of the young Queen Elizabeth the First rather than the evil witch out of Oz.
Housetrap. I wanted a change from writing swords and magic and decided to venture into the fantasy detective genre. I thought it might be amusing to take an established mystery or thriller title, mangle it, and create a plot out of the wreckage. The longest running murder mystery play is The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. I decided mine would be The Housetrap. When I started I had a detective and a title. All I had to do was figure out what a Housetrap was. The result was the first in the series of novellas under The Housetrap Chronicles. Sort of a Sam Spade meets every fantastic character or creature you can dream up.
Knight’s Bridge. I go for a walk almost every morning before breakfast, usually with my mind set in neutral, sometimes day-dreaming. Somewhere I came up with a scene of a jaded knight fleeing a lost battle, nothing more. This became a short story as told by the knight. When I was finished I decided I was curious as to what might have happened next. The result was a novella-length piece in four parts as told through the eyes of four different characters.
The Queen’s Pawn. Another case of where my day-dreaming conjured up a single scene, a young man fleeing a burning city. I don’t remember what triggered it. I may have just watched the movie Troy, or read a book around the life of Helen. In any case, I had the opening, and one character. Once I started to write the novel, the plot and other characters came to life quickly. My hero had to rescue the queen and her spoiled daughter, and get them to safety against overwhelming odds and assorted villains. From that birthing, the medieval-style fantasy adventure began.
Dial M for Mudder. I returned to my fantasy detective. In Housetrap I opened with a search for a missing boyfriend, in Mudder I paid homage to the traditional detective story by having a missing statue, then running off and messing up the tale.
House on Hollow Hill. Back to the Housetrap Chronicles again, this time I decided to do a take- off on a traditional mystery setting, the big house in the country filled with strangers, theme.
Hounds of Basalt Ville. You don’t need an encyclopedia to figure out where I mashed up this title from. The novella comes out in November 2013. Again, following the format I have used in others of the Housetrap Chronicles, for me it is a simple matter of coming up with the title, then building a plot around that. Perhaps a bit backwards when compared to the normal method of, write the story and then add a title that fits, but it works well for me.
A final, as yet unpublished example of the birth of a novel. I read a brief newspaper article commenting on how the Europeans mistreated the aboriginal population. This triggered the thought, I wonder what would have happened if the shoe had been on the other foot and the North Americans discovered Europe first, and arrived with an advantage. That set me off on…how would I go about writing that? I’ve finished this adventure into the What If of Alternative History and am still mucking about with the beast of a manuscrpt.
I have no shortage of ideas. When something I find interesting forces its way into my brain I will often jot down a sentence or two and file it away for future references. I doubt I will ever find the time to write all the stories lounging there. Between my mental slush pile, and some of my earlier, and in bad need of re-writing, efforts, I will never find enough hours in the day to visit all my imaginary worlds.
Where do you find the Worlds of your Imagination?
The Dark Lady – Feb 2012
Housetrap – Dec 2012
Knight’s Bridge – Mar 2013
The Queen’s Pawn – Apr 2013
Dial M for Mudder – July 2013
House on Hollow Hill – Sept 2013
Hounds of Basalt Ville – Nov 2013