Where do you get your ideas as a writer?

credit: Julian Santacruz Used under a CC licence

I have three idea reservoirs:

My obsessions

Lots of things freak me out. Other things seem really cool. Usually– but not always– ┬áthese are the same things. For whatever reason I am drawn to dark and disturbing things. Friends who are “believers” tell me this is because I have a heavy karmic debt. Whatever.

I am often thinking odd thoughts. I jot them down when I’m riding public transit. A selection from the last week:

“How long does it take to flense an average size human body anyway?”

“If owls were suddenly much larger than human beings, how long would it take them to figure out they could eat us? And given that we are less hairy than mice, would this pose problems for giant owls horking up bundles of undigested human bones– the mouse bones are always encased in a dense mat of fur and mucous, but since we have less hair, maybe our bones would be painful for giant owls to hork? Would this deter them? Would people with really long hair, or dudes with super thick and substantial dreadlocks be delicacies for giant owls?”


I read a lot. Sometimes things other people have written are so beautiful or evocative or disturbing that I steal something from it. All writers do this. It’s a sign of respect and appreciation.

The “What If” Game

I ask myself “what if” in most situations, then try to push it to some level of absurdity or horror. Lots of interesting grotesqueries in that activity.