One of the things people often ask writers is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’
Harlan Ellison famously responded to the question with the answer, ‘Schenectady’. Which is hilariously snarky, but I totally get the inclination. Because the idea of trying to explain to another person where these things come from feels absurd and daunting.
But I’m going to try and give you a little glimpse into my process… At least in regards to this latest story I’m working on. Because why not?
Here’s the thing. The real, weird, gooey truth is… sometimes I don’t even get ideas. What I get is a visit from a voice. Not a literal voice. Not exactly.
It’s a voice like an inner voice, only it’s not mine. It’s not me.
Other authors have talked about how the characters they write are part of them. One of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, tells a cheeky story about having tea with a group of fans and listening to them all talk about Black Jack Randall. Black Jack is the villain of her novel Outlander, and these fans were expressing all their feelings for how dastardly and terrible BJR was. And Gabaldon quips about how they don’t even realize that they are sitting across the table from him.
I don’t feel that way. In truth, I often feel more like a scribe than a storyteller. I listen to the voices telling me their stories and I write them down. I might be the one crafting the words, painting the picture, but the characters are the ones dictating what goes on paper.
That’s how I sometimes end up in the midst of a story learning things about my characters that I didn’t know before. For example, I’m currently working on a story tentatively titled ‘A Kiss of Brimstone‘. It takes place in the same world as ‘A Single Heartbeat‘, between Ben and Andras.
When I started, I had a vague idea of the story outline. I knew Ben was a vampire hunter, like Will. And I knew Andras was demon.
Now, since I’m not a religious person, I knew I would to need to figure out how exactly Andras fit into the world I had already envisioned. It meant I had to go carefully in the beginning, during the setup. The story began with Andras. And, slowly, Andras began to whisper to me.
Last night, while I was writing, one of the things that I learned was that Andras, my sexy demon lord, is demisexual. It wasn’t something I planned. I didn’t go into writing the story thinking, “I’m going to write a demisexual demon protagonist.”
Yet, as soon as the words took shape on the page, they felt right. Like a truth revealed.
So it’s as simple and as odd as that. Maybe it sounds crazy. I know it feels crazy sometimes. But good crazy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And because it’s been stuck in my head since I began planning this blog…