Where do you get your ideas?
It seems like this is THE question. The one every writer gets asked (even unpublished ones). In the absence of ’42’ being a satisfactory answer, I could answer this way: most of my ideas come when my imagination collides with the news to produce a shower of travel dust.
If that doesn’t make sense, I’ll try to explain it a little more. The essence of good writing is conflict and the news is probably one of the richest sources of external conflict there is. I should probably (sheepishly) admit I’m not an avid follower of the news, but when serious current affairs programs talk about the greed surrounding diamond mining in Africa or the slaughter of albinos for the magical properties their bones impart, there’s a whole concept and culture for a speculative fiction writer to explore. I enjoy delving into these real life issues in my writing (even though my reading preference often leans towards pure fantasy- wizards and warlocks, swords and spells). Obviously, I need to use my imagination to form a plot that will allow some investigation of the conflict and its consequences for those caught in it. So here, news and imagination collide. The resultant dust is the memory of exotic cultures I have experienced during my travels overseas, the little everyday happenings that colour how I feel about an issue. You don’t have to travel far to see that in poorer communities girls are often not as valued as boys, or that a large number of children spend most of their days working rather than attending school. I think perhaps it’s this glimpse into some of the injustices in the world that have made me so keen to write about characters who experience them.