People sometimes ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” That’s a valid question–I’d sure like to know where George R.R. Martin gets his! But for me, the answer is, “I keep my eyes and ears open, and then this thing happens in my head, and then x, y, and z get tossed in, and then voila!”
It’s like alchemy.
Take yesterday, for instance. I’m on the road, researching the next Amish novel I’ll write as Adina Senft, and I was talking to someone about holidays and travel, as one tends to do. They started telling me about landsailing. Apparently it’s a bit like parasailing, only you sit in this wheeled vehicle and the sail propels you across the desert. When the wind dies down, you have a problem, but up until then, it sounds pretty neat.
And then the alchemy kicked in.
There’s a stretch of Magnificent Devices where Lady Claire has to get from point A to point B in a hurry, and she has to improvise, as is her wont. What would a landsail vehicle look like in 1889? What would it look like in steampunk 1889? How cool could this possibly be?
I abandoned the conversation and scuttled away to make some notes in my collage-book, which is a mishmash of images and notes and looks a bit like a stewpot.
People wonder where ideas come from. The answer is: Everywhere.