1) How did the idea for your current novel come about?
2) Where does the inspiration for your ideas generally come from?
The serious idea for my novel (the series at large) came from a concept I had for a video game; little more than a few character names now remain. It then spilled into writing. I flushed it out over time while Role Playing with friends—bouncing ideas off them in the process: characters, settings, themes, monsters and so on.
When they didn't like something, I pointed to the guide books.
The first thing I thought of was characters, specifically the baddies. I love heroes, but they're nothing without their opposites. That's why I love villains even more, because to me, every villain could've been or in fact was, a hero.
I love the concept of Evil, not because I'm diabolical—I mean I am—but because in order for my heroes to have the 4rth dimension to be real, their negatives must also exist to such equal standing.
In very few books I find Evil fully explored. The degree from Bad to Good often ending in varying shades and varieties of Gray, instead of barring out the full measure and unique quality of Evil. And for good reason, it's hard.
In most cases, you can relate to the antagonist. Sympathize. Understand them through context, which is great. If so though, I no longer see them as villains, but instead, tragic characters, of which there are plenty throughout my series.
Aside from those, I strive for stark lines of contrast. Boundaries from which there's no return or sympathetic justification; things, ideas, beings, which are truly Evil and which will always be feared. Their threat never, ever, lessened by context or distance.
This is something I think is far easier to do in Fantasy and Science Fiction, as opposed to non-Fiction, since the supernatural, alien, mythical and so on, are perfect targets for this.
For every writer, I'd like to thank all the evil characters ever created.
Without you, we'd have no stories.
Well, the easiest answer is my inspiration comes from everywhere, which is true...as cheesy as it is.
I see things in movies, TV and the internet. I read it in books, hear it on the radio and so on. Then I have to name it, shape it and that's where the flesh and bones comes from. Sometime to my own horror.
I don't know how many pages I've written because I was inspired by something, only later to read it and throw it away because it isn't me or it's too close to what inspired me. That's the biggest problem with inspiration.
Thinking about it now, my biggest inspiration is all the stuff I trash or my wife trashes or my friends or anything I'm unable to explain away. Because, when I finally find something I like enough to keep and even if I'm unable to say why—not always able to put a finger on that it—that suggests to me a deeper connection.
It's like art.
I'm no critic, but I know what I like and when I do, I don't feel like a fake. Also, when I like it enough to keep it and it still reminds strangers—reminds is key, cause imitation isn't the best form of flattery—of something else and it's a good thing, then I feel good.
If it's like this, I feel bad:
"Me and the McDonald's people, we've got this little misunderstanding. See, they're McDonald's. I'm McDowell's. They've got the golden arches. Mine are the golden arcs. They've got the Big Mac. I've got the Big Mick. We both got two all beef patties, sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. But they use a sesame seed bun. My buns have no seeds."
I love that movie!