Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

I'm asked this question a lot. My ideas come from many places, but I can still remember when the idea for FIRE OF THE DRAGON popped into my head. I blame it all on my then 5 year old daughter, Rachel. To get an idea of the type of child she was, here's a few pictures from her past:

gator Forget baby lambs and fuzzy kittens. Rachel gets her thrills petting alligators.
Rachel sticking her hand in a fake shark's mouth in Key West. shark
dinosaur Rachel in her pterodactyl costume, proudly displaying to her favorite book, The Life Size Book of Dinosaurs, to her kindergarten class.

If you've read DRAGON, you have already met my daughter, who was the inspiration for young Zoe. Here's the scene that describes my precocious child perfectly. In this scene, Jill is in desperate need to find a last minute birthday gift for her niece. She has just stumbled into a strange vintage clothing store by mistake (or was it? *G*):

     Clo patted her shoulder, concern evident on her weathered face. “Oh, you poor dear. You look so upset. Is there anything I can do?”
     Jill snorted. “Unless you have a birthday present for a six-year-old girl hidden among all these old clothes, I doubt it.”
     She regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth. The lady’s small stature perked up and her eyes gleamed with dollar signs.
     “Oh, I’m certain I have something.”
     Caught, Jill groped for an excuse, any flimsy reason to beat a hasty retreat. But the woman’s wistful eyes—enlarged twice their normal size behind the thick lenses—froze Jill in her tracks. She glanced back at the face of her battered drinking partner, thinking they could both use something stronger than make-believe tea.
     “Thanks anyway, but somehow I doubt it.”
     “Does she like to play dress up? We have children’s clothing in the back—pinafores, crinolines, tiny gowns perfect for little girls to play princess in.”
     Jill snorted. “Oh, I don’t think so. Her idea of dress up is to put on a fake fur pelt and pretend to be a Siberian snow leopard. I doubt Zoe’s ever played at being a princess in her life.”
     “Really?” Clo remarked, her voice tinged with disbelief. “That seems a bit unusual.”
     Now that was an understatement. “My niece isn’t like most little girls, which makes it a pain in the as—makes it difficult to shop for her. She adamantly refuses to play with dolls and boycotts any and all tea parties. If anyone gets her a Barbie, it ends up in the bottom of the toy box faster than the wrapping paper can hit the floor.”
     Jill watched the woman’s pencil-thin eyebrows inch higher with each word.
     “It’s true. Sweet little Zoe would rather play with rubber alligators, fake snakes and plastic dinosaurs than anything that comes in pink.” She tossed in a heavy dramatic sigh for effect, certain Clo was ready to admit defeat and boot her out the door. “She’s not a girly-girl, so I can’t get her prissy stuff. There probably isn’t anything she’d like here.” Jill smiled, standing to make good her escape. “I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time.”
     Rather than the confused expression most people acquired when she described her niece, the tiny shopkeeper grinned. “On the contrary, I think she sounds like a delightful and unique young lady.” Then an odd twinkle glinted in the woman’s eye. “So you say she likes alligators and dinosaurs?”
     “Yes, but—”
     “What about dragons?”
     “Dragons?” Jill hadn’t really thought about it before. “I guess so. They’re sort of similar, aren’t they?”
     “Wonderful! I have the perfect thing,” Clo said, grabbing her by the arm. Her initial shock at the lady’s pushiness was offset by her surprising strength. Before Jill knew it, Clo had towed her into the dark recesses in the rear of the shop.

Yep, that pretty much is Rachel in a nutshell. So when my daughter was getting ready to turn six, it came as no suprise that she was sick and tired of all the princess parties her friends were having. Instead, she decided she wanted to have a dragon birthday party, no princesses allowed!

pin   pinata
Pin the flame on the dragon.   A dragon pinata.
A dragon cake, of course.
puppets   marble
The craft project:
dragon sock puppets
Since these were all kindergarteners, I had to give them a head start by creating the bodies and glueing all the felt wings and spines on beforehand. All 9 of them!
  I created a dragon cave (basically a tunnel constructed of kitchen chairs and blankets.) At the end, each girl found a bit of treasure—her very own tiny pewter dragon mounted on a marble.

Needless to say after all that, I was on dragon overload. So one evening, while I was up to my elbows in suds doing dishes, the idea of a modern woman being send back in time and sacrificed to the local dragon came to mind. Then I thought it would be a lot of fun if the dragon was actually a dragon slaying knight cursed to be the creature he once hunted. Once the idea sparked in my mind, my muse ran with it and the story Jill and Baelin took on a life of its own.

Hard to believe that dragon loving little 6 year old is starting high school this year. Where has the time gone?



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