Ideas Really Do Come from Anywhere

My little idea book - a gift from LA Smith

My little idea book – a gift from LA Smith

Ever wonder how writers get their ideas? We’ve all talked about this topic before on Purple Ink, but today I’m going to focus on one of the weirdest, wildest sources of ideas:

Research.

Yeah, I know. Hard to believe, right? But seriously… true story here…

I have a new concept for a YA urban fantasy set in the Midwest. Totally unrelated to this concept, I also have a short story anthology with a monster theme that I’m working on. So I was doing some research on Wikipedia for monsters I might like to write about for the short story anthology, and I found a reference to the dhampir. Half vampire, half human.

Awesome. This will work for the YA urban fantasy.

So, I made note of this in my little ideas book and then decided that if my protagonist is half-vampire, than her absentee father will be a full vampire. So, I do what makes sense next:

My little idea book in action

My little idea book in action

More research.

I started out researching vampire folklore to help me define the skills my vampires and dhampirs will have, because there’s so much vampire fiction out there and I want my story to be unique. I made these notes in my big ideas book. (I have tons of notebooks, basically, with random story notes in them. Notebooks are a gift of the gods to a writer.)

As I was researching, I surfed over to a Wikipedia entry on vampires in fiction, to hunt for some possible names I might want to borrow. At the bottom of this Wikipedia page were several related entries, including the incubus, which of course I want to read because, hey…incubus. Can’t resist the urge. (Did you get the double entendre there?)

Did you know that according to some legends, incubi are bisexual and can change between male and female forms as needed? You do now. Because research.

Also, and more useful to the YA story I want to tell, incubi can appear in the dreams of humans to tempt them. Cool ability. I’m going to borrow that and twist it for my story.

Of course, too much research is not always good. Here’s why:

There’s this other link at the bottom of the Wikipedia page that I just had to investigate: “Sexuality in Christian Demonology.” Seriously, there’s an actual page on Wikipedia about this. And apparently, it was a big topic of discussion for centuries. I mean it. St. Augustine weighed in on it (he says yes, demons display lust). Thomas Aquinas weighed in on it (he says no they don’t). I’m not kidding.

I cannot tell you how much I just want to talk and talk about this. Serious theologians

My little idea book and my big idea book - I'm a crazy note taker!

My little idea book and my big idea book – I’m a crazy note taker!

wasted time for centuries debating whether demons can feel lust or not. Meanwhile…

crusades, starving peasants, Black Death, indulgences…etc., etc. You can’t make this up, can you? And I’m not against Christianity because I’m a Christian. But… Well, there are no words.

I’m seriously distracted by this. I’m getting it out of my system by blogging about it. But honestly, this idea will be bouncing around in my head and some day it will probably end up in a story somehow.

Because research. And that’s one place my ideas come from.

Don’t judge.

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