“Where do those ideas come from, anyway?”

From time to time, people ask me where I get my ideas for novels. “If I could come up with a great idea,” one said, “I could write a book too.”

Okay, bubb, let’s go. Book ideas come from personal experience, as well as being found in every single news cycle. As a novelist, you will take a given news story and expand on it to create a plausible extension of the premise. Easy, right? Let’s begin.

(1) My novel Force No One grew organically, in part, from my seven active-duty US Army years as a Military Police Investigator (MPI). I spent most of that time in long-term undercover anti-drug operations in Germany (since color TV but before the internet). That experience, post-military research and other experience, helped me form the nucleus of a story about investigating a terror threat to the World Series opening ceremonies.

(2) Computer viruses are a hot topic, and growing. The Washington Examiner pushed a story that foretold possible American disaster. “The Justice Department warned of “alliances” between hacker groups and foreign nations such as China, Russia, and North Korea to form a “blended threat” posing both criminal and national security challenges to the United States.” You could write a book about how such a three-pronged attack might hobble the US, and how our forces not only beat it back, but prevailed.

(3) Time travel is a perennially popular topic: We all wish we could go back in time, whether to correct ourselves or wreak havoc on our enemies. I’m working up a narrative titled “Dawn Patrol,” where an Army National Guard Abrams M1A2 tank unit on a week-long training mission is scooped up by an interstellar time warp. They have to get from Texas to Santa Barbara, California, to reenter the wrap and be brought back to the present before the warp goes off into space forever, stranding them in 1865. How can they travel that far without being seen? (Train) How can a tank powered by a turbine (jet) engine be fueled? (Filtered crude oil) How can they communicate? (Warp grabbed a comms satellite along with them, so they have real-time radio from the past to the present)

What have you got?

Leave a Comment