Where do you get your ideas?

Guest Post by Graham Parke

As an author, I’m often asked where I get my ideas. I’d say this happens at least once every 1.9 years or so. Which is why I decided to write a little blog by way of answer.

There are, of course, exactly eight places where authors get their ideas. In order to minimize immediate competition, however, I will describe the eighth and least useful place. The eighth place authors get their ideas is from dreams. Every once in a while they’ll wake up with a glimmer of a plot-point, an interesting character, or an unexpected twist. More often than not, these glimmers make little sense in the cold light of day. So far, I’ve only had one reasonably useful dream myself. It was a very vivid dream, and it came complete with dialog. This almost never happens. I immediately took my pen and pad from the nightstand and wrote it all down.

As I’m holding out on the seven other places, it’s only fair I share my one useful dream with you. You can judge for yourself the usefulness of dream ideas, and, at a pinch, my ability to separate the nonsensical from the sensical. What follows is my description of the events that took place in my dream, with the dialog left entirely in its original dream form:

“Sunday brunch; the table overflowing with food and drink, the fine china and silverware laid out, maids buzzing around making sure everything is in order. The clock ticks away painfully slow minutes before father finally speaks.

      “Well son,” he says, “isn’t it about time you got yourself a job?”

      John looks up from his plate, surprised. “But Dad,” he says, “I have a job.”

      His father nods thoughtfully, chewing his medium rare steak. “I guess it’s about time you moved out then. Found yourself a place of your own.”

      John is baffled. “Dad, I moved out five years ago. In fact, this is the first time I’ve been home.” He looks over at his mother, who shrugs and says, “You know dear, your brother has his own business now. He set up an accountancy firm.”

      John rolls his eyes. “That’s me, mom. I set up an accountancy firm. John Williams and Associates.”

      “That’s good to hear,” his father says. “I always said you should run your own business. You have a keen business sense. Always had.”

      “I just wish he’d find himself a girlfriend,” his mother complains.

      “What do you mean?” John smiles apologetically at Annabel. “I have a girlfriend, mother, she’s sitting next to you. She gave you flowers at the door, remember? You put them in water.” He points at the vase. “They’re right in front of you.”

      His mother waves it away with a warm smile. “Sorry dear, I meant a proper girlfriend.” She squeezes Annabel’s hand softly. “You know what I mean, don’t you dear?”

      Annabel opens her mouth, but can’t think of anything to say.

      “Didn’t you used to have dark hair,” his father suddenly says. “And not quite so many arms?” He looks John over. “Yes, yes,” he says, “you definitely look different. Did you get shorter?”

      “That’s enough!” John gets up, gestures at Annabel to do the same. “If you cannot behave like civilized human beings, we’re leaving! I can’t believe you’d treat Annabel and myself this way. It’s appalling!”

      Father throws down his napkin and stands. “Serves you right, young man,” he says. “Serves you right for not going home for five years and then ending up in the wrong house!”


Graham Parke lives in the Netherlands with his wife and son. He’s responsible for a number of technical publications, and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

      No Hope for Gomez! is his fiction debut.


Posted on May 27, 2010, in Featured Authors, Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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