Where do you get your ideas?

The number one question I get is “Where do you get your ideas?” or “Where did you get the idea for [name of novel]?” I get ideas all the time, but most of them don’t stick around long enough to bother with. Those who loiter are put to work doing a character, a scene, a bit of dialogue. Those who won’t go away usually mate with some other loiterer and turn into a novel. Wilderness, my first published novel (about the fourth one I finished) was born out of my interest in medieval romance, particularly Marie de France’s sympathetic werewolf in Bisclavret, the old Lon Chaney Jr. movies, and wolves. The spark was a dinner discussion with housemate philosophers Lenore Langsdorf and Laurent Godbout among others about the nature of humans, whether we’re animals or something essentially different. I was in the animal camp, and I talked a lot about the werewolf. The next morning I started writing the novel. My goal was to have a real woman turn into a real wolf. Researching the novel I went to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario during black fly season. What does a Texas boy know about black flies? I had the place to myself and heard the wolves howling at night, but I never saw one, though I wrote the first draft of the wolf encounter scene in the park on site, swatting black flies the whole time.

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