Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Questions from the Question-Maker: Where do I get my Ideas? And more!

Good Monday, yo.
It's a cold, rainy day today, and the mountain right outside my house is covered in snow.
Perfect day to curl up with a good book. Too bad I'll be working on revisions.
Anytime I get asked the same questions over and over, I like to include them on the blog. So, maybe this will be a Monday feature or something. 

BAM! Just like that, I have a weekly feature. Blogs are magical! I say it at home, in my kitchen, and it becomes so. 

Time for our first weekly...


QM: Where do you get your ideas?

This is, probably, by far the most common question I've gotten, and I know other authors get asked it a billion times, a billion different ways.

My favorite way the question has been asked comes from my mother-in-law right after she finished reading my book:

"I had no idea what's been going on in that head of yours!"

Okay, so it's not a question, but anywho... I thought I'd answer it here.

My book is partially based on a few myths, namely Persephone and then Orpheus and Eurydice. It's okay if you don't know anything about these myths, because I didn't set out to write a book based on myths.

I started my book because I had a scene in my head: A girl, who has just returned to her high school after a 4 month absence. She's completely changed, barely recognizable, a shell of her former self. Nobody knows where she's been, not even the boy she left behind.

So, what is that first day back like? Is there someone at the school she's dying to see again? And most importantly, where had she been that would completely destroy her like that?

I'll admit, I wrote a good portion of the book before I had any of the answers, especially about where she'd been.  It was only then that I knew this story was based on the myth of Persephone. 

This might be a backward way to approach a book, but I can't sit down at the computer and go, "Okay, so I like the Persephone myth... How can I apply that to a contemporary high school setting?" Because then there'd be no element of surprise, no passion behind the book.
QM: Are all the answers going to be that long?


QM: You're in the middle of revisions. What if your editor wants you to change something that you don't want to change? Can she make you?

She can't make me. But the guys with the guns she sends to my house can make me. 

The way I view editorial suggestions/changes is this: Even if I don't agree with the suggestion, it's still a sign that there is a problem there that needs to be addressed. 

It will never go like this:

Editor: "I'm not sure the father, who is the mayor of the town, would really sign up for a pole-dancing class... It seems a little out of character."

Me: "But I know a guy who did that! That part of the story is integral to the entire plot!!! It has to stay! Plus, it came to me in a dream, and my dreams are always prophetic!!!!!!!"

* Side note: just because something happened in real life doesn't mean it will sound authentic in a book. Real life is always stranger than fiction.

If I didn't agree, my response would be more something like this:

"It's important that the father pole-dance. What if I add something about how his own mother was a world-famous pole-dance instructor? And he promised her on her death bed he would carry on the tradition?"

My editor says her revision notes are just jumping off points to get the discussion going. I love my editor.

QM: I thought you promised no more long answers?

Then ask simpler questions.
QM: Okay, time to dumb it down for the lady of the house. Where in your house do you write?

My kitchen. Unless I'm deep in revisions, then I take it to the bedroom. (Sorry, TMI). 

QM: Have you ever seen The $20,000 Pyramid?

QM: The Shuttle launch.

Midnight on New Year's Eve.

An egg timer.

Things you count down!!! Things you count down!!!!

QM: Congratulations?

Thanks! What do I win? What do I win?


Question-Maker? Are you there?


Okay, so the QM has gone home. (In case you're wondering, the QM lives in the space between Rainbows and Comets. Third house on the left.)

So, what did all y'all do over the weekend?


  1. Good luck with your revisions, no matter where they take place. And boy is it cold outside. Lucky you to get to stay in. ;)

  2. I love you Q&A. It made me laugh. Thanks for that.

    Your mountain looks very similar the the Wasatch range.Beautiful mountains those.

    Most of my ideas so far have come from dreams (and no, I'm not into horror stories). But I love the whole question scenario you presented. My NaNoWriMo project came about that way and even though the premise of the story changed as I asked myself questions (those charming "why" and "how" being the most motivating) it was a fun exercise.

  3. I'm trying to figure out where you live based on that snow mountain. It looks like Salt Lake valley maybe kind of by Draper but I can't tell. Am google mapping it. Don't try to stop me.

  4. Sara- Having an excuse to stay in is the best part of revisions.

    Weaving a Tale- You're right! It is in the Wasatch range. And I, too, write a lot from my dreams. Just not the ones where I show up to work naked.

    Heather- I would never try to stop you. But if you want a hint, That mountain is Mount Olympus, the North/West face of it.

  5. this pole-dancing mayor-father idea a sneak peek into the subject of your next project?

  6. Lulabell- Shhhh! It's top secret. As a side note, would you be interested in reading a book about a pole-dancing Mayor/father figure?

  7. Took my son to the zoo for the first time. It was great!

    Hope you had a great weekend!

    I enjoy the question maker... especially the randomness of him. However, what did you win?

  8. Una- I'm still not sure. Maybe I won the pleasure of the QM's momentary absence...

  9. Hi Brodi,

    As someone who is trying to break into the publishing world, I keep returning to your blog because it's humorous and encouraging. I was hoping you might be able to answer this non-question maker question: My novel is about two young girls, college students. In my mind, it's YA, but I get the feeling twenty-one, or even twenty is considered "too old" to fit that mould. Is it ever appropriate to call it a YA novel when the protagonists have moved past high school? (but think like they're still there?)

  10. wow. snow. I'm glad I don't live where you do. that does not make me excited.

  11. Anon- So, I'm not the expert on defining the YA genre or anything, but from what I've heard from agents and editors, college-age protagonists generally don't fit in the YA genre.

    One reason is that technically college-age protagonists are no longer Young Adults. They are adults. Another reason is that YA is sort of defined by taking place in those specific years of Junior High and High school, when the family structure of living with parents/ siblings is still in tact.

    I'm probably not being very eloquent right now. Anyone else want to chime in?

    I know agents have delved into this topic on their blogs. I'd go there for a more definitive answer.

    Good luck to you!

    Tamara- Snow used to make me excited. Back when I had the money to ski. And no kids to worry about.

  12. Exactly as I feared, but thank you for the very eloquent answer. I assume my college girls are actually more paranormal romance since one of them is dead and they are in love with the same boy. Er, man. Good to know BEFORE I query, at least!

  13. Yes, I was dismayed to see the snow today. =P

    Good luck with revisions! I'm looking forward to reading about the pole-dancing mayor with the complex past! ;)

  14. Anon- I wish you the best!

    L.T.- He is, indeed, a fascinating character, and the linchpin to my entire book. And I will never, NEVER, let him go!

    (J/K. I hope my editor isn't reading this)

  15. I think it's cool that you don't know exactly where you're going with your story at first. Like you said, there's no surprise. :)

  16. The Q&A was hysterical, but my favorite part of your post was the fact that you are so "gangsta," yet still grammatically correct... (Good Monday, yo.)

    Good luck with revisions (and that pole dancing thing).

  17. Jenni- Unfortunately, I never know where I'm going with anything.

    Meg- I try to be very street on this blog. It's true.