There Are Those Voices Again
More House of Honor authors sound off on where they get their ideas.
I keep a list on my phone in my notes. I write down any ideas that come to me. They can be from nature, my surroundings, a dream I had, or from looking things up on search engines. I record my dreams and save and screenshot anything I like that inspires me. I keep a private photo album for those images. And because I always have my phone on me, I never miss writing down an idea! Even when I’m in bed drifting off to sleep, if an idea comes, I’ll shout hey Siri! Take a note for me!
My imagination would be the simplest most direct answer, but there is probably more to it than that. I build on past experiences. I also see the world through the eye of a writer. Everything has a story of some sort. If not, a great one can be created.
Once I have an idea, I do research about parts I’m not knowledgeable about. I also have trusted friends I have discussed my ideas with. In New Perspectives I discovered there were rules that applied to time rifts. I was fortunate to have a scientific friend to keep my concept in check.
Bigfoot is the focus of my current series. Cameron Buckner‘s Dixie Cryptid and a few more YouTube channels, of that type, have been a great source to help bring sasquatch to life
My childhood home in Queenstown, Singapore made an indelible stamp on my psyche. The old ten-storey apartment block was built in the late 1960s over a former Chinese cemetery. Over 100,000 graves had to be moved when they built the housing estate. At least, I hoped they did…
The area always seemed thick with shadows, even on a hot sunny day. It was not the shade from the leafy angsana trees either. For whatever reason, it felt rather melancholy, with hidden pockets that swirled with resentment. Plenty of inspiration to recreate a creepy mood. Whenever I want to capture the essence of a spooky place, I simply close my eyes and recall the old neighbourhood.
Then, there was Grandma’s house in Cairnhill, dating back to WWII, that was said to be haunted. The family had a store of spirit lore for all occasions, with many stories of strange happenings. Another rich source of mood enhancers for scary scenes.
One of the earliest stories I wrote was before I was seven, based on a recurring night terror. Godzilla played a starring role in my nightmares until my mid-teens. Perhaps it is a side effect of a vivid imagination because my dreams and nightmares are usually in full technicolour. It’s like Lao Tze’s Dream of a Butterfly. Am I dreaming this, or remembering a dream? All of which are a source of ideas.
Once, during the Sydney Writers’ Festival, I had the occasion to listen to the late Terry Pratchett, who wrote the Discworld series. He gave us the best advice on how to spark our creative imaginations – read widely, take an interest in people, life experiences, different genres and topics. Ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. The more we read and take an active interest in the adventure of life, the more the ideas for a story will come to us.
Sometimes, the worlds and characters I create take on a life of their own. Some of them can get quite bossy. They tell me what I have to write and how their stories have to turn out. Which reminds me, the Bear Rebels have gone quiet. Too quiet. That usually means TROUBLE. I have to go now…