Where Do Ideas Come From


My books always start with my asking the question, “what if.”

  • What if I wrote a book about symmetry and the Alhambra for kids. What could I do to make it interesting and readable.
  • What if a medieval princess had a fairy godmother who was from the women’s liberation movement.
  • What if the girl locked in the tower was not a gentle princess but a rowdy hooligan.
  • What if demons appeared in Berkeley. Why would they appear and to whom.

Once I ask these questions then the characters and plot flow from there. My understanding of my characters and the story develop as I write. I put my characters into a situation and see how they react. And as I write, I know them better so their story deepens and evolves.

When I started my Alhambra book, I was there. Once I returned home, I read books and books about Islamic history, art and medieval culture. I joined the Mideast-Medieval Islamic History forum. I requested books from the library loan program (Owen Jones’ book on the Alhambra). I corresponded with an Alhambra scholar in Spain. I went to museums to look at artifacts from that time. I read current books on harem life from women who had lived in them (Fatima Mernissi—Dreams of Trespass).

There are many ways to come up with stories. So how do you get your idea? Do you ask “what if” or “what happened” or “how come” or something else entirely?

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~ by Gwen Dandridge on May 17, 2014.

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