Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Least fave interview question

To help kick off the Labor Day Weekend, a wacky post is in order I do believe.
Still, I take this whole interviewing gig seriously. And there's one question I've never felt comfortable (or saw the point) asking a writer in an interview. "Where do you get your ideas?" Frankly, most of us don't know. Kurt Vonnegut had this to say:
(click on to enlarge)
So, I guess this begs the question, Gang o' mine: Where do you get your ideas? Thoughtful answers are copasetic, though ribald, eccentric, absurd responses earn magical brownie points. I'll go first...


( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
I get my ideas from a Sears, Roebuck catalogue I stole from the Roaring Twenties! It's not all cool story ideas, however. This woman on the left is picking out a flapper outfit so she and the hubby can live dangerously at the speakeasy before the world turns all dark and conservative with the Great Depression beginning in '29. (Before and after pix below) The story ideas don't come with pix, though. Just lots of sparkly adverbs.

Sep. 4th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Hey, my dad wrote a short story for Fantasy and Science Fiction that was sort of inspired by the L. L. Bean catalogue. It's called "Catalog."
Sep. 4th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
You've got me curious now. Your dad's a published SF writer?
Sep. 4th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
Not for most of his life, but in the last five years, yes. He was a Nebula finalist last year, for "The Woman in Schrodinger's Wave Equation."
Sep. 5th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
You're father is Eugene Mirabelli? Cool. Didn't know that.
Sep. 5th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
Yep. I went from Francesca Mirabelli--impossibly romantic name--to Francesca Forrest--good name for a romance novelist (alas, not my genre...)
Sep. 5th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
I assume you married a gentleman name Forrest or is it a pen name?
Sep. 5th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
Your assumption is correct ^_^
Sep. 4th, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
That's a pretty dang fabulous answer.
Sep. 4th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
I love Vonnegut's answer. He obviously found a lot to draw inspiration from. Which is kind the real answer to the question: From anywhere and everywhere.
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
My answer changes depending on my mood and who asked.

"I pluck them out of the air."

"They're everywhere." I then look around the room and spout off three or four ideas, which might or might not be good ones.

"K-Mart. Especially the ones on blue-light special."

"I steal them from smarter writers."

"I sit very quietly and let various ideas shuffle through my head until I find one I like."

"I send my mystical imp out at night to steal the dreams of those around me."

"Ideas? What?"
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
I like all those, especially "send my mystical imp out at night to steal..." Unfortunalely my mystical imp ran off to join the circus because my muse wasn't paying enough out of sheer jealousy. ;-)

Seriously though, I get a lot of my story ideas from reading. Not really plots or another writer's world, usually from just some throwaway line that takes me off in some wild direction. Sometimes I put the story down and start my own, and don't get back to the story I was reading until mine is finished.

I'll have to try the K-Mart blue-light special thing, though. :D
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
I get mine from Ideas'R'Us.com. They have a BOGO offer every third Tuesday of the month, so I usually buy them in bulk then :)
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
You too! I also ordered a big box of shiny ideas from them last week online. I'm sitting here now waiting for the UPS driver with bated breath. So I thought I'd blog while my career is on temporary hold. ;D
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
I'm too cheap to pay for UPS, so they're sending mine via pigeon. It should arrive sometime next week.

Edited at 2009-09-04 05:50 pm (UTC)
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
I hear the best ideas are delivered by a brown-suited squire in the dead of night. But those cost more. *sigh*
Sep. 5th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
Just be careful. They have an awful return policy.

1. Has this idea been used.
2. Can you varify that the idea has not been used.
3. If the idea has been used, or cannot be varified as not being used, then it may not be returned.
4. If the idea package is open. It may not be returned.
5. If the idea is used by any family members it may not be returned.
6. If writer A uses the idea better than writer B it may not be returned.

It's all in the small print. Just thought I'd warn ya!
Sep. 5th, 2009 11:45 am (UTC)

Ah, used ideas. Which reminds me of some rock band talking about their latest album. They said, "Some have said that we did this as a tribute to the early work of XXXX. Nah, we just ripped 'em off."

Sep. 4th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
I get all my ideas in the midst of a B*D*S*M session when I have my leather D0minatrix outfit on. I find the crack of the whip and the screams of my slave really helps my creativity. But since truth is always stranger than fiction, I have to tone my ideas down when I sit down to write a story.

(spelling changed to foil the bots.)
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Gee, Oz, I've been having these debilitating nightmares and waking up the next morning with marks on my back. Perhaps your muse owes my muse a night on the town. He's feeling a little downtrodden as of late.

ETA: We don't allow spam bots in the Clubhouse. So you're safe. :D

Edited at 2009-09-04 06:07 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Ooh, Frank comes to work prepared, with an Etch A Sketch nonetheless.
I was looking for a magical brownie cartoon as a giveaway, but alas nothing jumped out at me. I didn't find this humorous 9-11 call, though. ;-)

Sep. 4th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Everything comes from Kate Winslet.

Dr. Phil
Sep. 4th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
I'm sure she'd be honored, Dr. Phil.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
That sounds like an awfully long way for them to go for a story, but it's good they're suffering for your art. And it keeps them from hanging out on the street corners here and eating bad brains. :D
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
::glances around again:: Isn't that how everyone gets their ideas?

Jaime, I think you might have found an idiosyncratic method of sheer uniqueness. But no, that's now how most folks do it. I use a large vibrating speckled egg when the Sears, Roebuck catalog fails to deliver.

And good for you for making Robin Hood an asshole. He never gave to me when I was poor. In fact I still am poor and that no-good bastard of Sherwood Forest is still holding out.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks! But just hand the little cards out to the people who look funny. The "beautiful" rich people you should sell them to. Someone's gotta support the arts! ;-)
Sep. 4th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Nuh uh--you get your ideas from dreams and poems!
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
You are a triple threat, Jaime. *g*
Sep. 4th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
I think all writers get their idea from hearing about things or seeing things in life, and then extrapolating from that to something else. When I used to draw, looking out a window would give me an idea for a composition. Now, hearing a friend comment on how easy it is to overeat after a breakup by saying, "A man might let you down, but your refrigerator never will," gives me an idea for a story about a woman who becomes emotionally attached with her (talking) refrigerator.

Either that, or I'm just crazy. I hear voices. I write down what they say.

Sep. 4th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
That's the cool thing about SF/F. We can take the most mundane thing in life and give it a speculative twist.

You're not crazy, Karen. That's just what the voices are trying to tell you. ;-)
Sep. 4th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
My late grandmother was actually the lady in charge of responding to pleas sent to that post office box in Schenectady. For 60 years, desperate, blocked writers would send her their pittances. She would consider the writer in question and the situation described and come up with a perfect idea, which she would then send off to the beleaguered scrivener.

When she died, she willed that famous box (and her powers) to me.

Don't worry though; I'm sword to use them only for good.

Sep. 4th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
That's a heavy burden placed upon your shoulders, Jennifer. And a cool tale to boot!
Sep. 4th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
There is a spill on the floor. I take an old washcloth to wipe it up, and then I rinse out the washcloth. If I wring it out really well, really TWIST that thing, then after the dirty water, a story idea might get squeezed out.


I take in the laundry from outside. I shake out a towel, getting ready to fold it, and something flutters out. It's a story idea.


I'm taking the dog for a walk. She stops to sniff at something. I say, "Let's go, Molly," but she keeps sniffing. I look, and it turns out to be a story idea.

If I were a Formula One race car driver, the answer would probably be that as I'm hurtling past car 17, a shudder goes through the chassis of the car, and I realize--it's a story idea. But, I'm not a Formula One race car driver.
Sep. 4th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not a Formula One race car driver either. But the others seem to work out well for getting household chores done will inching forth one's body of fiction...one spill on the floor at a time. ;-)
Sep. 5th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Exactly! Now I don't mind the spills that much ^_^
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
Well, if your friend shares with you then I'm sure you're kind enough to let him dip his bucket in your well of forgotten dreams. :-)
Sep. 5th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
I pluck ideas out of the air. They're everywhere.
Sep. 5th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
You can pick your nose, and you can pick fruit, and you can pick your friends' nose and their fruit, and you can...forgot where I was going with this, Sophy. Maybe I'll pluck it from somewhere later. ;-)
Sep. 5th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
I got my muse chained down in the basement. Food in exchange for ideas. We can't let them flutter about, you know, otherwise we'd never have a steady stream of story concepts.
Sep. 5th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
This makes me want to start an Internet campaign: Free Justin's Muse from the Basement. Not that you're doing anything wrong, mind, but just so I could steal your muse. It's Labor Day Weekend and mine ran off to the lake to party with all the other muses. So my hat's off to you, sir. For keeping a tight rein on your muse. Mine will probably return from the lake an unwed father with a bad substance abuse problem and a few speeding tickets. Sadly, I never saw this coming. *sigh*
Sep. 5th, 2009 06:35 am (UTC)
"Ideas are everywhere. You just have to pay attention."

"Sometimes they strike like lightning. Then I must type. Or write. Uhmm...can I borrow your napkin."

"I get them at the swap meet. By exchangning my old, worn out, and out grown ideas; I can get shiny new ones."

"Tooth fairy leaves them under the pillow whenever I donate more than a dollar."

Sep. 5th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
Feel free to borrow my napkin, Aaron.

A good list here you've got. :-)
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )