My father-in-law is always asking, “Nora, where do you get your ideas from?” This seems to be a common question that all writers field at one point or another in their career.
The answer is simple. I have a tiny muse that I hold hostage and feed stale bread crumbs soaked in water. Sometimes when Wendy Wench is nice I let her out to play, but only if she promises not to run with sharp, pointy objects like scissors and to leave my idea nest of Post-it notes, the occasional odd restaurant napkin, and old grocery receipt scribbles alone. (I have a system, you know, however unorganized it may look to an outsider).
To be truthful, I don't know where Wendy Wench actually came from, but she plays the Irish tin whistle in the key of C and likes to read Charles de Lint. She also claims to have had amorous relations with at least half of the characters Charles Vess has illustrated for various authors. Neither factoid have I been able to prove or disprove, but I am sure I will get to the bottom of the matter in due time!
Anyway, I do have a serious three-part answer to my father-in-law's question:
1) My own twisted imagination runs wild when I am lying in bed and thinking about things that have happened to me during the day or that I've overheard while in line at the grocery store.
2) Inspiration often strikes while reading other people's writing. (Anyone who knows me knows I exist solely on pizza, music, and plenty of visits to the library).
3) And last, but not least -- my husband. My husband is a fountain of inspiration. Many a story has started because he imagined a character that would be good, but he didn't know in what story, etc. We have laughed together over many late night conversations, dreaming up a whole slew of characters for novels and short stories and putting them in amusing,compromising situations.
In closing, I would like to say that no muses were harmed or will be harmed in the creation of my stories. And for those of you, who are concerned about Wendy Wench's welfare, don't worry. I heard her humming The Flash Girl's A Girl Needs a Knife last night while I was trying to sleep and I think she can take care of herself. In fact, at the moment, I am quite afraid to let her out of her desk drawer. There’s no telling what that little hellion on wheels will come up with next!
Until next time, happy writing to all!