Friday, May 17, 2013

Where do your ideas come from? by Rachel Ward (The Drowning Blog Tour)

Rachel Ward is a pretty new author for me. I've only read one of her books (the first in the Numbers trilogy) but it was such an emotional experience for me that I've put off reading the other two books because I fear my reactions to them. But I was always going to be excited to read more by this same author... 

And I really loved reading The Drowning by Rachel Ward.  It was unsettling and creepy and also really addictive reading. So I'm very pleased today to have Rachel Ward discussing the inspiration behind her books. Please give her a warm welcome and if you'd like to know more about Rachel Ward or The Drowning which has been published this month by Chicken House, do visit the following websites...


Where Do Your Ideas Come From?
by Rachel Ward

When I visit schools, I talk about reading and writing and the ideas behind my books and what it’s like being published. I also leave time for questions and offer a prize for the best question. For me, question time is the best bit (I’ve heard the other stuff before.) The question I get asked every time is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ or put another way ‘What was the inspiration for …?’

I think having a good idea is the hardest part of writing, and also the one over which you have least control. Ideas simply come to you – it’s laughingly close to that cartoon lightbulb moment. Nothing there one moment and then – ping! – I’ve got an idea! I think this might be The One!

The idea for my first book ‘Numbers’, of a girl who could see death dates in people’s eyes, popped into my head one day when I was walking my dog in the fields overlooking Bath where I live. Straight away I knew what she looked like, how she spoke, her background in foster care and her gift. I think there were various influences at play (Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’, the US television series ‘Six Feet Under’ and my own mid-life musings on death and mortality) but I can’t explain how it all came together to form Jem so fully and solidly in my mind. ‘Numbers’ led naturally to ‘The Chaos’ and then ‘Infinity’. With each book I tried to do something different (Can you change fate? Could you swap or steal numbers and live forever?), but the central idea, seeing death dates, stayed the same.

As I was writing ‘Infinity’ there was a nagging question at the back of my mind. What am I going to write next? Will I ever have a book idea again? I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was going to do. Then, my husband told me a story a friend at work had told him. This guy had been in the US at a conference, and in some down-time had gone for a swim in a lake with two other friends and been hit by lightening. All three survived relatively unscathed, but very scared. Immediately I started thinking about the story possibilities. In my mind, I put it together with stories from the news about ‘feral’ teenagers, who commit terrible crimes casually – for a dare or a bet or just because they can. Maybe I also looked out of the window – 2012 started with a cold winter, a couple of weeks of sun in March/April and then rain, rain and more rain.

Within a few hours I had ideas sprouting like alfalfa in my brain. What if it was three teenagers in the lake? Why might they be there? What happens afterwards? It didn’t take me long to find Carl and his brother Rob, and Neisha, the girl at the heart of the story.

That’s where it started. Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. They are the product of your brain processing all your experiences, books you read, films you watch, conversations you have or overhear. It’s a mysterious process, but you can help it along by being curious about the world – get out there, participate, observe, listen. And take a notebook with you, just in case.


  1. This is a fabulous post - I'm always curious as to where author's ideas come from :)

  2. Great post! It is always interesting to find out where writer's get their inspiration from. I write stories and it is strange how you can get ideas when you are least expecting to :)

  3. I love this post. It's really got me thinking now. Thanks for writing it, Rachel! :)

  4. Thanks for the comments! Ideas can come from anywhere - you have to be open to receive them & quick to grab them before they disappear!


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