People ask me where I get my ideas

I got one last night.  Don’t know where I’m going to use it, but it’s tucked away.  It might show up as an entire book, or it might show up as a tiny aside thought that takes one sentence but colors an entire plot issue, but it’s there, and it will stay until I explore it to the depths of my curiosity.

See, Guy took me out to eat last night, and because it was busy, they were seating people by the secondary entrance.  I questioned it because it was bitterly cold and the draft from the main door had been uncomfortable as we waited for a table.  The woman pointed out the sign they had put up, politely asking patrons to use the main exit to ensure the comfort of the other guests.  So we trusted in the goodwill of people and sat, a foot away from an exterior door, on a cold winter’s night.  The main door was only thirty feet away.  Surely people would take the time to cross four tables and use the main entrance.

Over the course of an hour, no less than six groups of people read the sign, saw us sitting there a foot from the door, and went out anyway, sending in a cold blast of air to chill us about every ten minutes.  Now, I’m not telling you this to complain, (so please don’t think I am) but to point out that ideas are everywhere.  These people were not illiterate.  They were not evil, or unkind to children and small dogs.  They didn’t do it to irritate me, they just . . . didn’t care.  They did an unkindness because they were not going to be around for the fallout.  And that, my friends, is a story arc if you play it right.  Or a small though from a main character that explains an entire emotional issue.  A good title would be An Unkindness of Strangers.  And that, is where I get my ideas.



Filed under Drama Box

67 responses to “People ask me where I get my ideas

  1. Your brain works in mysterious ways. As a good antagonist, I would let my heart of ice be fueled by the “unkindness of strangers”. Yep, I can already see it “What do you mean they didn’t mean to? Of course they did! If they couldn’t read the sign, my red frozen ears should have warned them. They all deserved to be hexed!”

  2. Amy

    I had two friends give me copies of your book before I cracked one open. I’m ridiculously picky about the books I follow; It has to have a great writing style, it has to have believable and flawed characters that seem to advance throughout the book, it can’t have a ton of filler, it has to have great second string characters, it has to have a great plot (and sub-plots), and just a touch of humor.
    As a (someday) writer, I have to applaud such an amazing collection! I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of your books and eagerly devour each one when they come out!
    Right now your books are getting me through a very tough time, and I can’t thank you enough!
    Even if you never write another book, thank you for sharing your talent!

    • Thank you, Amy! I’m so glad you took a chance on my work, and delighted that you liked what you found! I’m honored that Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks are getting you through a rough spot.

      That’s great you write. I hope it sticks with you.


  3. Jo

    I read that and thought – “How rude. No should dare do that to my fave author.” 🙂 Okay well no one really deserves that kind of thing to happen. I like getting inspiration from the ordinary everyday things. I take the ordinary and twist them into dark little jewels then follow where they lead.

  4. mudepoz

    I started in life loving people. Then I taught. We take bets on how long it takes for a new TA to become cynical. The Tall Dude was the most gregarious individual I know. When we both compared notes on how students cheat with cell phones. Then he interned during law school in the public defense office.

    Sorry, I just expect people to be rude. I don’t teach much in front of classes anymore, and that was one of the reasons. Too many texting, or sleeping in their seats. It was bad enough when my dog could get to my old greenhouses and would snore during lectures…

  5. Judy Bienvenu

    Hey Kim,

    My way of coping with inconsiderate people is to “nice” them to death.

    I go out of my way to be courteous and friendly in situations where people usually aren’t (like in line at the Post Office, waiting for the bus or in the check-out line at the grocers).

    Niceness seems to be self-perpetuating and it is great to see folks respond in a positive manner. It’s also funny to see the looks on people’s faces when I do something they don’t expect, makes it all worthwhile.


    • Mmmmm, Judy. I think you have hit upon it. I must tell that to Guy. He really needs to hear that.

    • Judy Bienvenu

      I just don’t want to go through life being one of those rude, inconsiderate people we all bitch about.

      It’s easier to be nice and keep them wondering what you are up to!!

  6. Jeremy, ca

    Well kim, people are cold hearted scorpions most of the time, and do what ever makes THEIR lives easier. I know it’s sad, but its the ugly truth that is always gonna be there. Just remember, “Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do!”

  7. trish

    I can’t agree more with all the comments on the rudeness & uncaring attitudes out there. I live in an area that has grown dramatically over the last decade or so (supposedly the fastest growing region in Aus) and I have noticed as the population grows, so does the selfishness. I think everyone is always in such a hurry that they don’t realize they are being rude. It’s good to find a silver lining as you have done, Kim. Hope the meal was worth the wait.
    New kitten in household has so far killed Xmas tree and ornaments (good excuse to pack away), shredded every bit of paper she can find as they are evil and deserve death by kitty kong, chosen packing box over expensive purple toys, and has decided that long skirts or trousers make good hiding place, just dig in claws and enjoy being dragged around. Oh, dishwashers are good to hide in, too. But the best fun is to hassle geriatric cat and launch assaults on unsuspecting targets (grin)
    BTW loved Antonio’s ‘analysis of restaurant patron’ above! (lol)

  8. Frederique

    I would have switched the “push” “pull” signs just to recreate the Far Sides “school for the gifted” cartoon.

  9. Geoff

    It fits in with my theory that people are inconsiderate a-holes, illiterate and/or stupid. (Not all, but quite a few. More than 50%, actually). I try and be considerate to people, but there are times that they don’t deserve it. I would have pointed out the fact that they were being a-holes.

  10. Phil

    hehe …Vivid imagination, Antonio … 😀

  11. Antonio Rich

    (Grin) Any decent restaurant would have had a bar to hang out at, NOT the EXIT door!? Besides, signs with traffic instructions_In a restaurant?

    I don’t know…Here’s what i think was going thru their heads: “Belly_Ugh!_Bathroom?_No time_Car Keys?(‘Pat Pat’)_Check_Tip?_Yes_Wallet?_Check_What am I forgetting?…Sign?_ What does it sa…Right!Wife, can’t forget her_Check_OOoooo Shiny!(picks up coin from floor)_Where did I park…Oh Yeah!(Executes rough pirouette)_EXIT door_Pretty Redhead and Husband Glaring at me?…”

    Remember when that lady ran over your, and Thing Two’s, feet with a baby stroller? Cincinnati Zoo. Did they ever find her body?

  12. JanisHarrison

    I agree that management should have locked the secondary door in addition to posting the “request for courtesy” sign. {Side note: In one of our favorite local, owner-operated cafe’s, the secondary door is posted “Do Not Open, Door is Alarmed.” I never knew doors could be worried :-)}

    • mudepoz

      My favorite sign is “Keep Alert” OK, it wasn’t the sign, it was the graffiti below it:
      Keep A lert, they make great pets.

    • Hi, Janis. Unfortunatly code made it illegal to lock the door, but a sign that said alarm would sound wouldn’t have been amiss, I think. (laugh)

  13. gothar

    People are lazy and rude. A few weeks ago a little old lady decided to use an emergency exit because it was feet from the bus stop – No comment.

    I think you need to make a scene to get a better table after that stunt. My mother would of had the manager on his knees after the first party of ass clowns.

    On another note, a bit of cold never hurt anyone – says a guy from the nothern wastes aka Canada, but still those folks where plain rude, lazy…

    • Hi, Gothar. Very true, but people are also kind, gracious, and giving. I was in a store the other day, at check out, and I noticed the woman ahead of me had a coupon from the paper. When it was my turn, I asked the check out lady if they had any more fliers so I could take advantage of the 50% off offer, and she said no, but the woman who had been ahead of me, stopped, turned, and gave me an extra coupon she had. It totally made my day, and I will remember it a lot longer than the rude people who didn’t bother to think of someone else.

    • Jenn

      You’re in Canada? Me too! Where are you at? I’m in London ON

  14. suzannelazear

    I love the title. It sounds chilly. It’s too bad they didn’t take them to pay attention to the signs. Unfortunatly, it’s everywhere–from people not taking the time to swipe their cards at the gym like they’re supposed to, to people taking things they’re not supposed to. Sigh.

    I get alot of my ideas from the tot. The other day she was “writing”–not alot of actual words, but lots of very nice looking letters. She wiped her brow with her arm and sighed. “Writing’s hard work mama.” “Yes, it is,” I told her. “My goal is ten pages a day–is that a good goal?” I laughed. “Yes, it’s a very good goal.” She did “write” ten pages, then ‘read” it to me. I wished I had a tape recorder. Vampire giraffes were present…

    Have a great day!

    ~Suzanne and the tot

  15. And here i thought you got your ideas from outer space. All my dreams are shuttered…

    Yay for spontaneous ideas that turn into plots. 🙂 Still 55 days to go for BMS. I am counting.

  16. Phil

    Did they look right at you, shrug and go out the door anyway? Geez … maybe their brains just froze from the cold?
    Maybe a little common courtesy is as rare as a little common sense?
    I agree with Kylie that it’s hard to remember when more people were considerate.
    Looks like cynicism is alive and well, though, lol.

    Ideas are fun things to have. I hope you have a million of them. It’s good they stick with you. For me they usually pop
    in and out.

    Speaking of ideas, it was the coolest to choose the title Black Magic Sanction. A real eye-catcher, that one! 😉

  17. Shannon

    Hi Kim!

    Wouldn’t it have been great if they could have locked the door so you could laugh at the rude people as they tried to open it.

    Happy New Year!

  18. Marsha

    I do sometimes wonder if they even teach the “golden rule” anymore. My parents and my grandparents taught us to live by the golden rule and never forget that next time it might be you sitting there, so to speak.

    • Hi, Marsha. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, and I wouldn’t even mention it, but it was the source of an idea, and I thought someone might find it interesting. 😉 –Kim

  19. Tina in WI

    “Where do you get your ideas?” is a stupid question, bet you get asked that all the time. Thanks for taking the time to think of a creative answer. Started my re-reading of the series to get ready for the new book. February is right around the corner!!! YEAH!!!

  20. Kat

    Hi Kim! I am always amazed at the behavior…or rather bad behavior… of others. On the positeve side…it sounds like it will be a great story.

    February is right around the corner!!!

  21. Vampyre

    Howdy ma’am,

    “Where do you get your ideas?” seems to be the number one question asked to any type of creative person. I’ve never thought it was a very good question. for me, getting ideas for things is usually the easy part. Implementation of those ideas is the hard part. Me being lazy and unmotivated doesn’t make it any easier. 🙂

    Herds of people are the worst. The more people clumped together in a group, the worse they are. Unless the alpha of the group says, “Hey, going this way is wrong, let’s go the other way.”, they’ll take the path of least resistance.

    “Random Acts of Apathy”?


    • Hi, Vampy. If you ever go to a conference and you want to see the eyes roll, hang out at the bar and ask the writers there what their most hated interview question is, and I’d be willing to bet that “Where do you get your ideas?” is right up there at the top.

      One of my favorite Dr. Who quotes goes something like, Humans are madness in groups, but individually they are some of my best friends. 😉

  22. Kylie Ru

    I’m sorry you were cold, Kim-san. 😦

    Yes, I have noticed the amount of people who do care has certainly declined. Hold on . . . I don’t actually remember a time when more people cared. I don’t even know if I’m old enough to remember a time. Okay, let’s reword this. I have found the amount of people who care, and are kind to others, simply for the sake of being kind, is rather small.

    Hmm, I get my ideas from all kinds of places. It’s kinda fun! ^^-

  23. Mendi in STL

    The older I get the more cynical I become. I like to think that the majority of people are more caring but they don’t seem to be. Although I was pleasantly surprised the other day by a young man who was standing in the vestibule area of a McDonald’s, I had my hands full and tagging my daughter behind me and he actually held the door open for us. It’s like a diamond in the rough sometimes.

    • Hi, Mendi. I want to live in a world where most people are caring, so I am going to continue to believe that most people are. (shrug) Call me native, but it makes my days easier, and you’re right. There are people who take the time to be helpful. 😉 –Kim

  24. I think I have that t-shirt: Do unto others, and then split. I also have a sign somewhere that says writing is cathartic. Better than beating the hell out of idiots.

  25. Frotee

    I’d complain – on the spot, at least starting with the 3rd goup using the secondary entrance. I put an effort into trying to always be poilte, so others may as well keep their rudeness to a minimum >:] (I also have to endure our horrible neighbours every day >_>)
    I will, however, be looking out for that idea to surface on paper from now on 😉 Makes me think about where you got the ideas which are already filling my bokshelf.
    You just have to look for semothing good in everything.
    (The streets are currently really really slippery at night – makes me do something good for our environment by taking the tram instead of my car)
    I hope it doesn’t get too cold though – the trains are having problems with temperatures below -20°C, and we were planning to take the train to spend new years eve in Munich (which is in the south of Germany, whereas I live in the central/northern reagion).

    Greetings, Carina

    • Hi, Carina. It just wasn’t that important to make a big stink over, and like I said, they were busy. I would have had to wait for another table, and I was HUNGRY! But you can be sure we did talk to the waitress about it, made her aware that people were ignoring the sign and that they might want to change it, implying that an alarm would sound. It had to remain unlocked due to code.

  26. Hey Ms. Harrison,

    Yes, lol, I dreamt of Vampires and it involved quite a lot of me running and hiding to get away from them. 🙂 I get my ideas from dreams.
    So, 🙂 My review on WWBC. I warn you, it’s a bit lenghty. I’m sorry for cluttering up the blog and almost pushed it into mine rather. 🙂
    Here we go:
    So, here’s my five cents on WWBC. I finished the book last night (hence why I blame you for my vampire dreams) and it left me with a sense of… completion. I must first explain, or point out, that yours is the only Urban Fantasy books that I read. I never read ‘vampire’ books because I considered them mostly filled with clichés or teenage angst. Yet, something made me pick up Dead Witch Walking (the scene where Ivy almost bit Rachel the first time to be precise) and I haven’t looked back since. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t like Rachel in the beginning. There was something in her that just got my hair up and I thought that the only thing that we had in common was our red hair. Then, as the books progressed (my dislike for her peeking in book three) something changed. Rachel changed. And slowly but surely, I started to understand her. More to the point, I realized that the reason I didn’t like her was because she was a lot like me, and reading about her flaws was like scratching at mine. So, I started moving with her, in this light of new found understanding and it was with this in mind that I started reading WWBC. It was a wonderful read, though I can understand why people called it a ‘transitional novel’. You have Rachel in transition, in transition in her personal life with Ivy, in transition with her social life with the witch community and the world and her psyche in transition with her new found relationship (and a very shaky one) with Al. What I loved about her in this book is that she’s honest with herself for the first time. It started in ODW, but she enforces it here. I loved her interaction with Ivy, the respect that she now shows her friend without constantly apologizing. She doesn’t jerk her around once or treats her unfairly as I sometimes felt that she did in the other novels. She accepts who she is, accepts the consequences of it and carries on doing what’s right despite the effect that it has on herself personally without being surprised when it backfires into smut on her soul. She accepts that too, to a fashion.
    I loved the conclusion of Kirsten’s killer as I think it closed off (or rather resolved) that aspect of her life, leaving her free to pursue new relationships and hopefully more open to some old ones… (still a big R/I shipper).
    I also loved that Ivy verbally admitted that she didn’t have a problem with being a vampire as such, merely the warped idea of love and pain that Piscary enforced on her. I wasn’t fond of Ivy’s interest in Glen, but there you go. Lol. Can’t have everything.
    I walked away from this book with a new found understanding of the main character and a lot of respect for her. I understand Rachel a lot better now I think and also, in a small and private way, myself.
    Thank you for a great read Ms. Harrison.
    Favourite line: Glen was holding the slice of pizza cradled in his big hand like it was a favourite pet – dead but still beloved…

    • Wow, Alyssa. You are so spot on my thoughts about WWBC, i made a little happy dance.

      For me, Urban fantasy was a genre for writers to get away writing their wet dreams come true… impossibly beautiful/handsome vampires, or elves, interconnected with some damsel in distress, ad nauseam. I know i am being to prejudiced in calling them Harlequin novel with vampires in them, but therein lied my hesitation towards this genre.

      But the Hollows is something else. I still can’t say i’ll read another series by this genre without some recommendation though. The Hollows is urban fantasy by definition, but i read struggle against racism between lines, i’ve come to realize how lax we get to use the term “friend” when it meant the world. There are many other things, but that would take pages to explain.

      I, too, like how Rachel has come to do the very things she thought she’d never do. About Ivy, about demons, about relationships… She is growing up indeed, so is Ivy. You pointed something very important, i believe, about her liking being a vampire. Rachel likes her being a vampire too. Kim did a very clever job in emphasizing that is not the problem at hand. There is also this line that got my attention.

      “Would I give up being that special in order to love someone, or would I just find someone new to love?”

      Kim, i bow to you! I can’t wait to see the answer. I hope this doesn’t count as spamming your blog. Kinda got carried away. Please accept my apologies and gratitude. You rock my world!

    • Hi, Alyssa.

      Wow, thank you for such an indepth review. I’m honored that you’re getting so much from my work. 😉 Now, if I can only do it again! (laugh)


    • SeattleRobin

      Very nicely said, Alyssa!

  27. Rachel

    Good Morning….

    Did you go out to dinner here in Upstate New York? Sound like people around here… just don’t care.