It is the question I am most often asked. Where do I get my ideas from? And the short answer is - I don't know!
That's not a lot of help is it? But obviously ideas come from somewhere, so . . .
In my last year at primary school I had a wonderful teacher called Mr Wallace. He used to have a box full of ideas. We would take something from the box and that would be our idea for the lesson. Once I pulled out a card on which was written "Find out and write about Socrates."
Ugh, I thought, but actually I enjoyed finding out about him and I remember illustrating my piece with a picture of a man with a sad face wearing a long robe and holding a goblet of poison in his hand. He had a skinny beard in my picture too if I remember correctly. Okay I didn't have to invent anything for that piece, but my creative input was the picture.
Another time I pulled a picture from the box. It was of a busy street. I had to write a story about it. In the end my story involved a helicopter and a large field, but I've no idea how I got there from the busy street. I think I decided that one of the many people in the street was on the run.
My best friend pulled a picture of a couple of old ladies from the same box. She named one of the old ladies Agnes and turned her into a murderer. I remember wishing enviously that I'd pulled that picture from the box when I read her story, but it wasn't the picture, it was her imagination that made her story so good.
If I'm stuck for ideas, which I often am, I sometimes look at a picture and try to write a story about it. Occasionally the ideas just come. I was reading a Woman's Weekly and a single word thrust itself out at me from the page. No, honestly it did - it leapt right off the page and poked me in the eye.
Oh, all right it didn't. But there was something about the word. An ordinary word. Jumper.
It referred to a garment, but that word stuck itself into my brain and finally formed a story.
You can sit all day at a railway station eavesdropping on conversations (not that I do of course - I don't have time) and come away with nothing, but you can pass someone in the street and catch a couple of words and have a complete story.
Then there are the dream stories when you have a dream and it presents you with a fully formed story, or at least an idea for one. Memories - we all have those. So where do ideas come from? Well I still don't know. They're just there!