Where Do Ideas For Novels Come From?

A Sudden Storm

Ideas from novels can arrive from anywhere. They can come from reading, lectures, true life experiences, or anywhere. I’d like to share the two sparks that started my novel below.

If I’m honest, my first novel began a long time before I had a desire to write. The first moment of inspiration came when I was throwing a softball around in preparation for a softball game at my parent’s church.

It was a magnificent day like most Michigan summer days. A slight breeze was in the air. It was not too hot or too cold, just perfect. No one mentioned the weather. I had no clue that it might change and I get the feeling none of my team members who tossed the ball around with me had an inclination of what was to come.

In what seemed like less than an instant the sky was dark, then from beyond the horizon of tall maple trees came a deafening roar. It was the sound of gallons of rain drops falling from the blackened clouds above.  Lightning forked across the sky and I ran and dove into my car just as the immense rain drops clattered on pavement and pummeled my car with such force I thought it was hail. I imagined what it would have been like were there no cover at all and how the cold heavy drops would have felt had they pummeled me instead of my trusty Chevy Cavalier.

This sudden unannounced storm would be the first ingredient that would ignite my novel.

The second happened a few years later.

My friend Matt suggested that I read a book he had just finished. It was a book of popularized history call How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.

How the Irish Saved Civilization

I picked it up and immediately I was hooked. As I read, I came to a part where Mr. Cahill talked about the viking raids on monasteries in Ireland and the surrounding countries. It sounded terrible. I imagined the monks in the sack cloth robes gardening in the beautiful summer morning. Then just as the change of the weather I experienced a few years before, the countryside would be filled with enemies that rushed forward from the undergrowth and cut down everyone in the monastery.

When thinking back on my first novel, The Tale of Calelleth, I realize that there are many things that formulated the novel in my mind. These are the first two experiences that I can remember that cemented the idea of an enemy showing up unannounced. It has since changed from a faceless pure evil to something more complicated, but the storm and Mr. Cahill’s book forever impressed upon my mind the idea of this horror that some in the tangled history of the planet had to live through. They had no refuge as I did in my Chevy Cavalier.

So how about you, reader? Are there any particular experiences or things that you have read that were the seeds to a novel you are now working on?