Anywhere and everywhere! Once in a while, I will have an epiphany for a great plot that just pops into my head out of the blue. My second novel, The Drift, is a good example of that. Most of the time, I just get little sparks of an idea from daily life. In some cases, those sparks develop into a raging bonfire of material. The Wanderer, my latest book, is a prime example.
The sparks can come from anywhere at any time and are often based on the smallest things. Perhaps I’m sitting at a bar and overhear a backpacker’s conversation about her travels around the world which spawns the idea of writing about a backpacker’s travels; of course, in my case, I have to give it a science-fiction or thriller twist. Or, I might see a single mother juggling managing her child and filling her cart in the grocery and think to myself: Why not write a book with a single mother who saves the world.
In Genesis, one of the books I’m currently working on, the spark came from world news. Recently, there has been an abundance of very troublesome news – innocent black men killed by overzealous police officers, the global pandemic of COVID-19, the attack on the U.S. Capitol, terrorist attacks, the damaging effects of overpopulation, and a seemingly endless list of other disturbing events. Seeing how bad things were getting, I wondered: What if someone had the power to change all of that? What if they could hit a reset button and start all over. Those thoughts led to my writing Genesis, a book that answers those questions in a thrilling way.
Whether an epiphany or just a little spark of an idea, I immediately write them down for future development. As I’ve mentioned before, I created a “Novel Ideas” document that has consistently been growing over the years. If the idea isn’t something I want to pursue at the moment or I’m otherwise engaged with working on a different project, I can always go back to them later.
Plot ideas, however, are just one form of inspiration. I also get inspired by the people I see and the places I visit. Personally, I enjoy books that are authentic to the characters and settings. I strive for authenticity in everything I write.
I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, living in many different countries and exploring many more. When I describe a setting in one of my books, it is normally based on personal experience, calling out the details that moved me the most. The same could be said about my characters. Although my works are entirely fictitious, I pick up on idiosyncrasies, interpersonal interactions, and the base personalities of those who surround me.
In closing, I’ll say that an author’s inspiration is a subjective concept. Use whatever works best for you, but be open to the environment that surrounds you.
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