Whenever people learn I’m a writer, the inevitable question follows: Where do you get your ideas?
Contrary to popular belief, we writers don’t have a treasure chest in our brain, nor are we privy to any secrets at gathering ideas. In my opinion, ideas are the easiest part because they are everywhere. Interesting tidbits on the History Channel that spur questions, documentaries on TV about ancient societies and how they lived, seeing someone random in a café who inspires a character.
Ideas are easy. Formulating an idea into a workable, 300-page book is the challenging part. And yet, with the paranormal genre (like I write) choosing the right setting can automatically generate some ideas.
I grew up in New Orleans, a haven for the paranormal. There’s voodoo culture, haunted places, and sinister old homes with wrought iron gates. To me, these things aren’t just the setting--they can be used in the story to evoke a mood.
For example, I set Water’s Blood (Book One, The Elemental Clan Series) in New Orleans. I knew the place well, having grown up there. The water-locked city seemed fitting, given the book is about a Water Elemental. But I used a natural part of the scenery--the cemeteries--as a key role in the book. When I drove past them during a visit home, the idea just came to me. The cemeteries are such a prevalent part of the landscape. Why not make them into something with a purpose?
For Raging Fire (Book Two), I set the story in Manhattan and used the underground basements that open onto the street as ways the Fallen Angels could travel quickly from one place to another. The taxis, the cafes, the traffic, all made their way into the book in some form or fashion. These ideas basically began to form as I walked the streets of New York. The scenery automatically helps the plot.
One idea feeds another, which is one reason I always keep a notepad with me. Some writers use a tape recorder; either works. Just make sure to get the ideas down on paper. Some you might use, some you might toss. But don’t dismiss any of them initially.
I tend to always set my books in cities that can become characters in themselves. New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Savannah. Those places are so rich with architecture and landscape, it’s ideal to make those things fit into the story.
Ideas are like snowflakes. Keep putting them together and eventually you have a snowball, then it gets bigger and bigger. Using natural landscapes in iconic settings helps spur those on. Brainstorming with a friend or critique partner helps, too.
Someone once asked me how I got the idea for The Elemental Clan Series. I have to rack my brain every time, since no one thing jolted the idea. “The Fifth Element” movie was on TV that week. I attended a few writer meetings where the topic was Fallen Angels. I’ve always been fascinated with the good versus evil plots, and all these things congealed together to form the outline for the series. Over the course of writing the books, I’ve written down a few ideas for offshoots or ways to continue the series. Will those happen? I don’t know, but the ideas are written down.
Always let those creative ideas “simmer” for a bit, and eventually those random things formulate a story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Thanks for having me here today! Learn more about The Elemental Clan Series books on my Web site here. Books Three and Four will be released in 2014.
***Elaine Calloway writes paranormal/fantasy books with romantic elements. She grew up in New Orleans with a love of gothic architecture, tall steeples, and artistic cemetery headstones.
When she isn’t writing The Elemental Clan Series or novels about ghosts, she enjoys movies, reading, and spending time with friends and family. Connect with her online at www.elainecalloway.com.