I also find stories in my everyday life. Working in a cinema, I get to interact with a lot of different people. Sometimes the way certain people act toward me or my staff or their companions interests me and I find myself spinning a story about why they are behaving that way. I watch people on the street too, filling in their personal histories in my head as they pass by.
On occasion, it has been a place that has spawned a story. A location that just cried out for characters to inhabit it. I have a number of short stories that started that way. The newspaper is also a great place to find story starters. How often have you heard the phrase 'truth is stranger than fiction'?
My novels have all come from different inspirations. Assignment 9 was spawned from an exercise in writing an emotion. I chose distress, and from that single scene, I discovered two of my central characters and decided to explore their journey further. It was much later that I added the framing story which ties it loosely to another book I've written. That book, Holding it Together, which I have just started rewriting from scratch, came from real life experience. It's a story that has been itching to be told for years, but I've never managed to do it justice. I'm hoping I now have the writing skill to tell the story.
Prayer and Prey came out of a challenge from my writing group. We each picked two genres out of a hat and had to write something based on them. My two genres were sports and western. Somehow, from that I managed to write a romance novel set against the tail end of the Australian gold rush. And Chasing the the Tail Lights has perhaps the most interesting origin story. I started off wanting to write an adult novel. I had most of the plot in my mind, and was just about to start writing when I realized the two main characters had this huge complex backstory that was absolutely central to their current relationship. As I thought more about it, I realized this relationship, and how it came about, was just as interesting as the story I had planned to tell. So I decided to write that instead, taking the characters back 20 years and making it a YA novel.
How do you find inspiration for your work?