Q: Where do you draw your ideas from? Are you one of those authors that has an endless supply? Do you keep notes on ideas?
Ideas just come to you. If you don't get ideas, you can't be much of a science fiction writer. I do actually have a cigar box labeled "Crackpot Ideas," and I sort through that every now and then. I always have computer files of notes, more or less organized, for the current novel(s).
Haldeman’s advice is the reason I have a Google Doc titled “Cigar Box” where I plop stray ideas and names as I come across them. From new story concepts and unique characters, to specific scenes and pieces of dialog, I try to preserve everything that sparks my imagination.
Despite currently operating as a mainly-digital creator, utilizing the amazing Scrivener to craft my novels, I have always maintained numerous notebooks scattered around my living space. It’s inevitable that every single journal I’ve ever attempted has become a place for story ideas to sprout alongside my infrequent personal anecdotes. In the interest of capturing every possible errant thread of inspiration, I’ve even kept waterproof paper and pencils in the shower.
Creative concepts come to me in all forms; a colleague’s curious turn of phrase, an amusing interaction while walking on a park trail, or a particularly stunning astral event. All of these require that I pay a certain degree of attention to my surroundings, and that I actually leave the house on occasion (which can be a tall order, sometimes).
More robust novel concepts are often born of my own experiences, rather than random observations. At least the contemporary novels I’ve written, Making & Killing and The Marriage Clause , have formed that way. While I'm neither a killer-for-hire, nor am I interested in getting married for money, the emotional currents behind these are very true-to-life for me. There are concerns about finances, the loneliness of being in a new place, and the desire to achieve goals that seem to stay just out of reach. It's through studying the piles of handwritten notes I've scrawled over the years that these thoughts have begun to filter through into the stories I've written. They've escaped from the pages of my notebooks and into the digital-domain.
Also, I really want a dog. That’s a common thread in both of these stories, and I don’t regret it.