Where do book ideas come from? My first book was just a retelling of an epic Land Rover adventure I undertook, with bits of history and culture stuffed in the narrative cracks like cotton batting in the planks of a sailing ship. Then came my first novel, The Ash of Winter’s Work. I tell the story here, on the updated excerpt page, about how that book was born. My third book, also fiction and currently in rewriting/reorganization stage, sprung from a single comment by SR Wood four years ago. That comment begat a setting, the setting begat a ship, a character, a story arc, and finally a book. That one may turn into a book series, and I hope to have an excerpt up on the site this fall. How about my current book? I’m 2/3 complete writing the rough draft and it has been the fastest of all books, as I’ve written about 50,000 words in the past two months, and that’s with working full time and yelling at two small children. Kidding! I sometimes ignore them too. That book came from one question that popped in my head: “What’s harder than being a boy in high school?” The answer spun out an entire story and I’d like to have up an excerpt chapter from that work by the end of the year.
All these books began with simple questions: What was your trip like? Which side did Finland fight for? How can you live up in the sky? What’s worse than high school and hormones? Finding out the answers has been really exciting, as has discovering new characters, voices, settings, and genres. World-building has its own challenges, as does historical fiction, as does realistic young adult. In each case you have to build on what you know and supplement a lot. I never thought I’d need to research Soviet military uniforms, or poisonous plants, or hawk training, or the texting habits of teens. This is why I write for myself and hopefully create something other people will enjoy. I still love reading my books, making it difficult to do line edits when I get caught up in the story. I think about those musicians who are famous for one song and have to play it for the rest of their career. If I was only known for one story I wouldn’t mind because each one is a doorway, not a dead-end, and I love stepping through it over and over to see what’s beyond.