In Which I talk about Ideas

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I would like to pretend this question was asked while I was on a panel. That I sighed, since that question had been asked so many times in my professional life. I look over at my husband Chris Pratt, and we share a laugh over the well-trodden question. My wacky talking unicorn sidekick answers for me. The unicorn is also a dragon.

The truth is I was asked ‘Where do you get your ideas’ for the first time this weekend, over an expensive salad and a pizza I wished I had ordered instead. It was asked by my old High School buddy Ben, who might be reading this (sup baka). As soon as he asked me that three answers popped into my mind:

  1. The hell if I know
  2. I am starting to suspect that inspiration is delivered via a tooth-fairy like pixie that randomly hits you upside the head with an idea-hammer
  3. My dreams

I went with the third answer. And that is, until I prove the pixie thing, where I get my ideas. It’s amazing what can stem from a dream. Like my idea for a Rocket Racoon/Groot/Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy team up movie that has a bath house scene. Sure, that one won’t come true for many reasons but it’s still an idea. My current books came from a different dream.

In that dream I was a robot doctor. And I mean I was a robot who was a doctor and a doctor to robots. There was a compute virus spreading through the city, and only I could stop it! Now. Those who are familar with my work are probably really confused right now since the book I wrote has nothing to do with that dream. Allow me to take you down the path.

The dream lead to the creation of a character named Caroline. A robot doctor lady who you’ll learn more about in four to five books. Caroline got a partner named Klockner, an ex named Scotty, and a little city to live in. The city turned into a space colony on Europa. That turned into a series of colonies in the solar system. Every planet or its moon ended up getting their own colonies. Those colonies quickly filled with characters, various pasts, and a far far future. I wrote a short story and struggled to turn it into a full book.

I hit a wall. I put the book down and goofed off writing fanfiction for a bit.

Then a new story blossomed in my mind. One with a anxiety-ridden scientist and a robot that was crushing on him. And what did you know, they needed a backdrop and I had one packed away in my head already. So I dusted it off and plopped the characters in.

I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked that they took root and grew like weeds, but I did. I tried returning to Caroline’s story only to find there was at least four books now in the way. Every character, every plot point spread its seeds and grew into another chapter to write. My single dream had lead into 8-10 books within a few short years.

See, that’s the trick with weeds. One can overrun a garden if you’re not careful. Luckily for me, I always thought daffodils were pretty.

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