For me, ideas form seemingly out of nowhere. But when I spend some time trying to pin it down, I realize there’s usually a trigger from my daily life.

My first manuscript began with a street name: Clinket Street. It was part of an address on a payment I was reviewing for fraudulent activity. It twisted and morphed into a trinket shop (my brain works in rhyme: Clinket, trinket, you get the idea) and then an entire adventure to recover lost trinkets.

A more recent manuscript started with the feeling I had walking down my open basement stairs as a kid. They had no backs, and I was always terrified that something was about to grab my ankles. That idea twisted and morphed into a story about a boy who actually does find something down in his basement, and that something snatches his sister and drags her down into the depths where he discovers an entire system for processing the souls of the dead.

I think the most important things to do when you’re trying to come up with ideas are:

1. To give yourself the mental space (think: wide open mind) to recognize the ideas. To dream them up and then let them become what they need to be.

2. Be brave. Push the envelope. Come up with the most out-there scenarios and then use your words to give them shape.

3. Write them down! It doesn’t matter if they turn into anything right then. I have a journal where I jot down ideas. Then if I’m at a point in my manuscript where I need an idea, I use the journal to jog my creative mind.