One of the most frequently asked questions authors get is, "So where do you get all your ideas?" My answer is usually intentionally non-specific and vague: "A million different places."
It's true, though. Ideas grow from conversations overheard, news stories, folk tales, true-to-life accounts, dreams, and 999,995 other sources. Ideas start as a seed, get mulled over, planted, fertilized, then tested to see if they'll grow and can support a full-length novel. Some are winners, some are losers.
A winner was when my uncle gave me a journal he wrote from the perspective of a Union captain in the Civil War. There were more than twenty entries, diagrams, and maps. Gripping stuff, too. Well-written, introspective, educational, and insightful. If I didn't know any better I would have thought it was an authentic Civil War-era journal.
Apparently, I didn't know any better.
What my uncle later revealed to me was the stuff of fiction, not fact. Several years ago, over the course of a few weeks, he had a series of dreams during which he penned the journal entries. He had no memory of writing them and the entries included things that even he, a Civil War buff, didn't know.
Weird stuff, huh? Even creepy. Like I said, the stuff of good fiction. And from those journal entries a story idea was birthed. I toyed with it for a while, tested it out, pondered it, and eventually set to work on my next novel, Darkness Follows, which releases May 3.
So how about you? Any real-life stories that may inspire a novel idea? Hey, I'm open for suggestions.