Originally written as guest post for Hopelessly Devoted 2 books
One of the questions I'm asked most frequently as an author is where do my ideas come from. This is both the easiest and hardest question to answer. The reality is they come from everywhere and anywhere. Anything can be that perfect, elusive spark that ties everything together. A conversation, a song, a discussion about whether or not racecar drivers are athletes.
For some of my stories, I can pinpoint the exact moment(s) that the idea struck and stuck. Through the Fire is one of those. I already had the idea of a couple who were sworn enemies coming together against the odds after listening to The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus song "Cat and Mouse." The plot and characters then solidified when I was hours deep into a Supernatural marathon. I started to consider what might happen if one of the brother's fell deeply in love with one of the creatures that he'd sworn to hunt. What happens when the dogma he's believed all of his life is challenged? The world of Through the Fire is vastly different to the world of Supernatural, but that little question of "What if" that ran through my head was the cornerstone that locked together all the random bits of the series that were already floating through my mind.
Other times the exact source of inspiration is a little fuzzier. I've had stories where the characters spoke to me so loudly that I couldn't ignore them so I just started to tap away at the keyboard and let them take me where they wanted to. I've also had some where the title struck me first and the rest developed from there.
Even within the greater context of a story, one little picture, or song, or word can spark whole new plot lines and ideas. For those who've read the book, they'll know the character Aiden. In the very early drafts of the novel, Aiden wasn't Aiden at all. He was just a one-line entry in a throw-away comment. Then I saw a picture of Nicholas Hoult and the blue eyes piercing out of the computer screen just screamed at me. I started to tap at the keyboard and before I knew it Aiden had launched himself onto my screen. It was as if he'd always been there, just waiting to fill the Aiden-shaped hole that I hadn't even known existed. Of course his part was bigger than it had been in the first draft, he always was a huge part of the world—I just didn’t know it yet. Of course he had to be what he is and play the part that he does. Nothing else made sense.
Of course there are those less fun times, when nothing provides that inspiration. Where it's just a matter of being in front of the keyboard trying to coax the characters to life. They're nowhere near as fun, but are still vital in the formation of a novel. Those words become the nuts and bolts that hold the various threads of inspiration together.
Knowing a few other authors, I know that these random sources of information is true for more than just myself. Be warned, when you're having a conversation with an author, anything you say or do, can, and probably will, be used against you . . . at least in a fictional sense.