ExtinctAt the end of each book, I try to paint a picture of where the idea came from. The general answer is synthesis: the combination of two or more entities that together form something new. Whenever I hear or see something interesting, I make a note of it. Later, reading through the ideas, I like to take two of them and see if I can combine them in some way. Below I've listed some of the inspirations for books I've published. !Spoiler Alert! If you haven't read the books below, you might want to stop reading.

The Vivisectionist - I was driving by an empty hotel one day and I had to stop at a traffic signal. I looked over, and riding in a school bus, I saw (or imagined?) a kid staring out  at the hotel. What was he thinking about? I also had the idea that you could train a kid to do anything if you formatted the learning like a video game. Finally, I love the movie "Stand by Me" even more than the book (The Body). I wanted to take all three of those ideas and put them together.

Lies of the Prophet - I think I was reading a news item about a family praying to a dead body. Is that possible? Anyway, I had the idea that a family was praying to a dead body. Why would they do that? I didn't know why they would when I started Lies but I wanted the scene to be viewed by fresh eyes. So, I put Lynne in a bathroom where she was looking at a corpse. Why was she there? Well, maybe it was her first day on the job. What kind of job sends you to look at a corpse in the bathroom? I just kept answering those questions until I had a book. Gregory was a surprise. Marta was a surprise. I wanted a Changeling in there just because I liked the idea of an evil 2-year-old. How could a toddler be evil? I had to write it to find out.

The Hunting Tree - I believe I heard a story on the radio about a tribe of Native Americans throwing themselves off a cliff. I was fascinated by that concept, and immediately thought that perhaps they were heeding the same instinct that a pod of whales hears when they beach themselves. Maybe there's a genetic mechanism which can inspire a family group to commit suicide if their genes are somehow bad for the whole race. I also had a dream about a boy who was marked. Every day a mark would appear. We, as humans, had forgotten what that mark should mean, so we ignored it. When I combined those ideas, I had a boy who carried genes which could wipe out the race. His ancestors had tried to extinguish the trait, but they'd failed. 

Extinct - Shoveling my way to the woodpile one winter day, I wondered what it would be like if the snow didn't stop. I also saw a picture of a class of kids who attended school on an island. I wanted to write about both of those things, so I put them in the same book.


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