Whenever I’m invited on a blog for an Author Q & A, one question invariably pops up: “Where do the ideas for your novels come from?” The simple answer is, “they come from within.”
For me, within is the quiet, contemplative place of my mind. It is when I am silent—not engaging in conversation, listening to the ambient noises around me, or plugged into from technology. Neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists call this “mind wandering.”
For example, Birdie Kaminsky, the beautiful thief in Treasure Me, arose from my subconscious on a Spring morning as I prepared to work on another novel. My four children—still very young— were tucked in their beds in the morning’s sweet silence. As dawn filtered a pinkish glow across the forest surrounding our house, I suddenly visualized an amusing sequence with a young woman dangling from a window trying to escape from the man whose pocket she’d picked.
Second Chance Grill? I was in Child’s Pose in yoga class when a mischievous preteen, Blossom Perini, drifted into my thoughts with her tumble of corkscrew curls and fierce desire to survive a terminal illness. It didn’t take long to realize I’d conjured her from despair buried in a forgotten childhood memory of losing my cousin, who died at age four of leukaemia.
Lately, I find myself thinking about inner peace, giving back to the world, and spirituality. The ability of the human heart to grow, and give unconditionally in a troubled world. These thoughts often come to me while doing everyday things such as walking my crazy Wheaten Terrier, Lucy or while tinkering around in my yard. This Spring I am re-releasing the Heavenscribe Series which draws upon these themes but on a global level. Heavenscribe, a spiritual transformation devised by angels to aid a dying world, is a culmination of the profound ponderings I have had lately.
Over the last twenty years, I’ve written many novels. The characters and general plot of every one of those books tiptoed in during the quiet moments of a given day. From living a full, rich life and travelling extensively, I’ve met a variety of “characters” throughout the years. Before penning the first draft of any book, I spend months writing journal entries, first-person, from each main character’s perspective. This process always turns up interesting facts about a character as my creativity and focus are expanded through silent interludes.
As you look for inspiration for a book—or any idea—explore the silence. Mind-wandering can help you with goal setting, develop ingenious ideas, and will enrich the books you choose to write.
So, unplug, disengage, and ignore the ringing phone. Create tranquil moments every day. That precious grey matter between your ears can’t supply you with the next character, or the next plot, without the fertile soil of silence.