Where do you get your ideas?
I guess all creative types get this question, to such an extent that it’s become a cliché. Kids don’t know it’s a cliché, though, so I try to answer it as best I can: I get my ideas in the same way you get yours–they’re a product of everything I’ve ever seen and heard and thought and felt. They’re influenced by books I read, things I watch, conversations I’ve had or even just overheard. I think the trick is not in worrying about your next idea so much as just having your arms open to it when it arrives. It’ll come around the mountain when it comes.
I believe there are unspoken questions that people are really asking when they ask “Where do you get your ideas,” however. I think the adults in particular are usually asking, “How come you can write a book and I can’t?”
Usually the answer is simply, “Because I’ve tried and you haven’t.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by people who want to know how they can become a writer for kids too, and I ask,
“What have you written?”
and they answer,
and I have to tell them
“Well, try writing a little more than that.”
To those who have already tried to write and think they’ve failed, you might be interested to know that I didn’t finish the first story I tried to write either, or even the fifteenth. Maybe that’ll help, I don’t know.