Thursday, January 23, 2014

No Stupid Questions, Only Stupid Answers

What’s wrong with asking, “Where do you get your ideas?”

First, a little explanation about the question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

If you’ve never been to a writing conference or convention, or a book festival, you’re missing out. They’re great places for meeting other writers, meeting readers, learning about books, learning about writing, and learning about the hotel bar. One of the staples at a book event is the “authors panel,” which brings together four or five writers to talk (ostensibly) about a certain topic.Malice panel from Sasscer

When I’m on a panel, my goal is to be entertaining (read: funny). I don’t always succeed, but I do try (that’s me in the photo, as panel referee, er moderator, at Malice Domestic, calling some sort of penalty on Sasscer Hill). After the panel discussion is finished, the audience generally gets a chance to ask some questions of the writers, and invariably someone will ask where we (writers) get our ideas.

It happens so frequently that it’s become an “inside joke” among the writers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the question—in fact, I think it’s a pretty good question. I just wish I had a better answer.

Because I DON’T KNOW WHERE I GET MY IDEAS. They just pop into my head, when I’m sitting in my car, taking a shower, reading the newspaper, daydreaming, watching TV, eating, cooking, shopping, sleeping (yes, I once woke up with an awesome idea). My problem is not a dearth of ideas; it’s a lack of time to write about them all.

Remember, as my grade school teachers used to say: there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Just my stupid answer.

(This entry is “simul-posted” on Criminal Minds.)


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Please Pass the Chianti!

Everyone probably has a favorite detective, but who is your favorite fictional murderer?

Ah, so many evil criminals to choose from. But if I’m going to go dark, I might as well go big and select one of the most diabolical, twisted—and formidable—villains ever created: Hannibal Lechter.

Let’s face it. You liked him in Red Dragon. You loved him in Silence of the Lambs. Of course, if you’re like most of the reading population, you really loathed him in Hannibal (and loathed the story, too; it was the one book I actually threw across the room in disgust when I finished). And after reading Hannibal, you probably avoided him altogether in Hannibal Rising (I know I did).

He had it all. A brilliant mind. A refined elegance. A very warped sense of morals with no reluctance to act on them. And when you’re ranking bad guys, cannibalism counts for a lot.

So to recap: I’d choose Hannibal Lechter as my “favorite” murderer.

But I wouldn’t invite him over for dinner.

(This entry is “simul-posted” on Criminal Minds.)