Every creative gets this question sooner or later: those asking think it’s the most natural thing in the world to ask about this ‘mysterious’ process. Those questioned, however, can’t help wondering where don’t you get ideas?! The truth is inspiration comes from the oddest things (that’s why we carry notebooks) but it can also be induced by filling your head with as much stuff as possible: reading, viewing art, watching movies, immersing yourself in wild nature or noisy city streets– wherever your muses lurk.
Honestly, I often forget where I got ideas originally once they’ve passed through my brain to become stories. I can remember the hooks sometimes because they’re in the titles. Owl Stretching is easy because the name comes from Monty Python and, as I’ve written before, I started it the day Kurt Vonnegut died and I lamented the loss of the sad, funny books that he wrote. But it also shows my obsessions with magpies and the Regency cant (slang) that Georgette Heyer used in her novels.
That same cant shows up in The Mangrove Legacy because I was obsessed with it for a long time (as well as Alice in Wonderland, an almost lifelong obsession, plus Jane Austen, Gothic novels and pirates, cheese and pockets). And that serial started because I was afraid that I wouldn’t keep writing fiction while I was so busy trying to write my way out of Texas.
Of course music is a huge influence for ideas. How many? Let’s see:
And my next novel White Rabbit is (obviously) inspired by Alice in Wonderland but it’s also sprung from “Draygo’s Guilt” and there are short stories like “Guide Me Soft” and “Grotesque” also spawned by Fall songs and Mark E. Smith lyrics; but I also use other musicians like this for what’s an homage to Tony Hancock and Sid James (stories inspired by comedy, that’s whole other post):
Even if I sometimes get the title wrong (>_<)
And sometimes it’s art that inspires a title and a story:
Other times, it may be a film:
Or a poem.
You just never know. Creating is a habit you develop, a way of seeing the world. Do it consciously. Really look at the world around you. There’s plenty of inspiration no matter where you are. Close your eyes: you have a lifetime of images, sounds and words in your head. Use them.