I have a confession to make: I have no idea where I get my ideas.
It’s a question I’m asked at nearly every single one of my booksignings, and I know other authors get that query all the time, too. I usually hedge when I answer, and say that my problem isn’t coming up with ideas, it’s figuring out which idea can be stretched to hold a reader’s attention for 300 pages.
It’s the truth, but that doesn’t address the real question.
I think, for me, ideas are like soup. I’m a terrible cook, so hang on while I struggle through this analogy. Coming up with a storyline works best for me if I don’t hover over it – if instead, I toss a few ingredients into a pot and let them simmer for a while. (Er, that is how you make soup, right?)
My ideas take shape slowly, and my subconscious is my partner in crime (or in chick-lit) because it does the heavy lifting when it comes to sifting through possibilities and finally closing in on a storyline. While I do things like walk the dog, put away clean laundry, and – fine, I’ll admit it – read PerezHilton.com, my subconscious is busy at work. And then, after a while, I step into the shower and a fully-formed idea pops into my head - usually just when I've lathered up with shampoo and can't escape to write down the idea. I remember it the best I can, then shoot an email to my agent and editor to see what they think. The next step is to go buy a pretty new notebook so I can sketch a broad outline of the book. (“She never buys me a new notebook. She didn’t even thank me,” mutters my exhausted subconscious.)
I’m reluctant to analyze the process to closely, for fear that my ideas will all flit away like brightly-colored butterflies. (“She really needs to knock it off with the analogies,” mutters my increasingly bitter subconscious. “Soup, butterflies. What’s next? Unicorns?”) So for now, I’ll keep giving my answer that really isn’t an answer – and I’ll hope my subconscious never quits and goes in search of a place with better working conditions.
Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally-bestselling author of three novels, including These Girls, which publishes today! Jodi Picoult hails it as "Bittersweet, laugh-out-loud funny, and painfully real." To view the trailer for These Girls, which is a lead BookRiot TV trailer today, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcw8aXvpd8Q