Where Ideas Come From
In a similar way, the story I sold yesterday, "Boon," started out with the first line: "No Pampers in Elfland." But when I consider it, it really started with my contrarian response to the Borderlands series. I enjoyed the series a lot; it's an appealing conceit, and some of the stories are wonderful. But after reading several of the books I began to chew on what it would be like to live in this place--to be stuck in this place--if you didn't want to be a teen runaway living among elvish rock n' rollers and artists. What about an elderly pensioner who hasn't the money or drive to move away from the house in which her family grew and her husband died? Or a struggling single parent whose support system is so tenuous that survival is all she can think of? Borderland is a town for the young and the people who want to be that particular kind of young. So of course, I wanted to write a story about someone who wasn't, um, of that demographic. That's not what the Borderlands stories are meant to do, and that's fair. So I had to find some other way to handle the problem, and of course, turned to my home town, which has absorbed any number of immigrant populations. Why not elves and dwarves and brownies and nixies?
There are all sorts of ways to be stuck in a place you don't want to be. The most interesting one, to me, is the kind of inertia that comes from believing, whether correctly or not, that you have no options. Of course, the story went off in its own merry direction once I set it in motion, but that's where the idea came from.