I’m often asked, whenever someone stumbles upon the fact that I’m a writer, “Where do you come up with those ideas?” And there are times when I realize that describing that elusive “muse” in any meaningful, concrete way can sometimes be harder than the act of writing itself. What is it that inspires me? What is that inspires any of us who dream up stories and toil away the hours until they come to life?
There are a few things that I can point to, some specific moment in my life when something occurred that sparked a thought, or the image of a yet unnamed and unformed character. Sometimes it might be a piece of music I happen to be listening too, or the innocuous musing of a friend or loved one that led me down some unknown avenue of thought. I’ve often found myself stumbling upon things I never imagined in those ways, and from even the simplest thing a story can be born. Or, at the very least, the beginnings of one.
The book I’m working on now, The Girl in the Storm, began with a single, yet haunting image. I was, at the time, engaged in some other activity around the house while listening to music (the exact kind I can’t seem to recall these days), and was struck by the idea of a woman in a white dress with raven hair. She was standing upon the crest of a hill and the ground beneath her feet was dry and blackened as if it had once been ravaged by a fire. And beneath her, piercing through the gloom was a forest that stretched out as far as the eye could see. It was a forest of barren trees, ashen in color and bearing not a single, living leaf and the twisted branches lifted upon into a dark sky that featured the light of a pale and sickly moon. From that singular image came the question…
Who is this woman?
Where is she?
From that question came the beginning of a story and when I at last had answered the first two questions that came to me, I found that there were many more yet to come. The more I asked, and answered, the more the story began to form and before I knew it… I had the beginnings of a series of books that would consume my imagination for several years to come. Those books are now in the process of coming to life at last, and where the story might lead next… I can only guess.