Can't Start a Fire Without a Spark--Brian Katcher


When speaking to groups of readers, I often find myself fielding the same questions: Did you always want to be a writer? Where do you get your ideas? Does it bother you that John Green makes so much more money than you? How do I know that's a real Rolex? Have you been drinking? How did you get into my house?

Well, most of those questions are easy to answer. But not the one about inspiration for my ideas. I think most people assume my book plots come directly from God, delivered on parchment scrolls by the winged beings from the book of Ezekiel. But that's only part of the process.

You see, I often don't remember where my books come from. One moment I'm not writing a book, and then suddenly I'm on fire. And after I stop drop and roll, there's an idea in my head. Sometimes I'll go back and read my manuscript and be surprised at some of the stuff I wrote. Sometimes scenes I've thought about for years will find a home in a new work. Sometimes I wake up in a strange city handcuffed to a park bench with no memory of the past week. It's an involved process. 

I did once come up with a book idea while attending my wife's family reunion. I'm not sure what this says about my mind her or family.

The best way to get a book idea: My editor comes up with it.

I once went to the estate sale of an author I admired. I bought one the books he owned, which was called 'Plotto', and contained a thousand and one contrived plot ideas. I guess I discovered his secret.

So in conclusion, kids, stay in school. And only losers use drugs. 

"The question I'm most often asked is 'Where do you get your ideas?' 'WHY do you get your ideas?' is a close second." -Gary Larson


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