The birth of a story

Ideas like to sneak up on you when you’re doing something else, like watching a film or trying to get soap out of your eyes while taking a shower. You can’t always write them down, so only a few survive. Even fewer grow into something bigger.

Stories are often born out of mundane moments that lack excitement. From the outside, the moment of their conception is less of a wild adventure and more of a pause, the kind that runs through the past and the future. On the inside, it’s a sensation, a tingle out of which the characters emerge and start constructing a story.

My first big story was born out of an afterthought, a notion of how people we meet can change the course of our lives. The notion wasn’t yet an idea, but it lingered for long enough to turn into three characters. They started talking and talked their way right into my first novel.

Occasionally, I would read something, a non-fiction book or an article, that would leave me with a word or a concept. Sometimes I have to play with it and turn it around many times, before I can find the right angle, before it sparks the story. When it does, it won’t give up until I write it down.