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You Never Know What You’ll Find…Especially When You’re Not Looking For It

Recognising the Muse

*Reposted from 2017

“Where do you get your ideas?” 

This is usually the first question I get asked when I tell people I’m a fantasy author. I have both no answer to this question, and lots of answers – I know this sounds confusing, but I get inspiration from everywhere.

Those who have read this blog before will know that I get a lot of inspiration from my travels. I especially love destinations with ancient ruins (such as Macchu Picchu and Morocco), beautiful architecture and different cultures. Experiencing live art and culture also inspires me.

Today, I was preparing lunch for my kids in the kitchen and I noticed something wedged between the microwave and a chopping board. It was a small Captain America figurine. I don’t know how it got there, but all I can guess is that either Captain America was chasing bad guys behind the microwave or playing hide and seek (my kids have, at various times, gone through phases of hiding toys in unlikely places then forgetting about them, before making the whole family go on a hunt to find them!).

It struck me, though, that you never know what you’re going to find when you aren’t even looking for it.

The same thing goes for creativity. I think the key is being open to the possibilities.

Recognising the Muse

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my sister about her experience seeing an amateur rendition of Cats: The Musical. As we were talking, the seed of an idea popped into my mind (wouldn’t it be interesting if...). I always think of this as my muse rapping politely on the door before pushing a note through the letterbox and then leaving.

In this case, it was the outline of a character. Actually, I wouldn’t even go so far as to say it was an outline. A few brush strokes in the vague shape of a character.

The thing is, for the rest of the day the little idea seed kept popping up. As was walking to school to pick up the kids. As I was cooking dinner. The character started talking to me, making observations. And, do you know… she had a kind of acerbic wit. I liked her. She made me smile. Eventually, I got out my notebook and wrote some of this down. I got to thinking that a character with such a strong personality might have a story to tell.

That’s not to say that she’s a story yet – a whole lot of development would have to go on before I could say that. At the moment, she’s just an idea. Maybe she’ll show up in a novel at some point. Or maybe she won’t. For now it’s hard to tell. I have an notebook that is my Idea Bank and I’ve made a point of putting her in there, so she’s not forgotten.

The point is, ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. Usually they’ll show up when you’re not even looking for them. The trick is to recognise them when they do.

*Photo by Marko Blazevic from

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