Where Do I Get My Story Ideas?
By Kerry Alan Denney
That’s the question most often asked of any writer, especially of a published author with legitimate credentials and critical acclaim from readers and reviewers. My simplest and most obvious answer is, “Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” But something tells me that’s not going to satisfy any reader’s curiosity. I wouldn’t consider it an acceptable answer if I was asking the question, and I have too much appreciation and respect for my readers to leave them hanging with such a cliché.
So from where indeed do all my wild and crazy ideas originate? The multitude of definitive answers is both simple and complex, and as numerous as the stars twinkling in the nighttime sky. I’ll give both forms of answers.
The simple answer: From my mind. As we all know, the space inside our minds can’t be measured by the size of our noggins, and it’s as vast as the universe itself. The universe inside my mind is always filled with stories and concepts, streaking through my synapses like blazing comets trailing a tail of shimmering stardust. It’s been that way since I can remember forming my first coherent thought. Growing up, my little brother Kolan said I was his favorite playmate because I always had the coolest story ideas. Even though he’s no longer with us—I still miss him every day—I’ll always treasure his sharing that with me. I’m certain he would absolutely love my stories and novels, and wish I could share them with him. I plan on dedicating my third published novel in loving memory to him.
The complex answer: From the moment I wake every morning to the second sleep takes me to dreamland, my mind is assailed with a cornucopia of story ideas. And it doesn’t stop there: a number of my stories have originated from my dreams. The theme in one of my novels is about using the phenomenon of lucid dreaming to conquer personal demons. I keep a notepad and pen on the dresser beside my bed to jot down notes when a particularly inspirational idea strikes me, whether before I fall asleep, when I wake from a dream filled with stimulating story concepts, or in the morning when fascinating story ideas are freshest and strike my waking mind.
Many stories come from my muse, the quintessential form of artistic inspiration. Often when I’m writing, I check out of the real world and get “in the writing zone.” When that happens—and it happens a lot for me—time virtually disappears, and I’m happily lost in the worlds of my stories. On those frequent occasions, I’ll often glance up at the clock thinking that mere moments have passed since I started writing, and discover to my surprise and delight that hours have slipped by while I was engrossed in the process of writing a particularly engaging scene, or developing a favorite character’s personality. Most determined and dedicated writers are intimately familiar with this rapturous experience, and look forward to instances of it with eager anticipation. These are the times when we know our muse is upon us.
Some of my dabbling and studies in the occult and various psychic research and experimentation have inspired me. I have had a handful of extraordinary out-of-body experiences, which have led to story ideas. I do not profess to either believe or disbelieve in any of these things, including God or a higher power or creative force; I merely keep an open mind, and a keen eye out for examples of the fantastic. A closed mind is like an isolated, windowless room in a house full of endless open rooms: one will collect nothing but dust, and become moldy and musty as well as dismal and gloomy through disuse; the others will be full of light and liveliness, and their walls will absorb stories from their various visitors to be told and retold down through the ages. A good writer worth his or her merits will always maintain an open mind.
Where else do my story ideas come from? An eclectic plethora of events, people, places, and things: unusual and bizarre phenomena, whether proven or speculative; noteworthy historical events; extraordinary current news events; stories about remarkable dogs and other domesticated animals; documentaries about intriguing scientific discoveries and the workings of our universe; anything related to the supernatural or paranormal; psychological oddities; various pop culture scandals and sensationalism; significant discoveries and inventions by intrepid explorers, scientists, and physicists; studies of amazing species, from the microbial world to insect life to the most deadly predators; unusual weather phenomena, from historical to current.
I could go on for days. A diverse library of music inspires me. Walks, hikes, and playtime with my dog Holly Jolly in various parks and nature trails inspire me. I observe and study people wherever I go—their behavior, gestures, facial expressions, posture, nuances, speech patterns and word usage (including phraseology and vernacular/ dialect) in conversation, and reactions. Above nearly all else, a truly good writer needs to be a good listener and observer. This world is full of fascinating events, places, and people, a never-ending source of writing material.
The human mind is a marvelous, wondrous, stupendous thing, and with it we learn something new and amazing every day, both individually and as a species. What if, sometime in the not so distant future, we learned how to link our minds together and share each others’ thoughts? Would we be able to withstand the input of all the cumulative knowledge and awareness, or would we experience synaptic overload and implode, go irreversibly mad, or turn on each other as enemies because the multitude of undeniable truths were too much for our minds to handle?
Hey, wait... what do you know... there’s another great story idea right there...
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural, Paranormal, Post-Apocalyptic, Suspense, Thriller, Action/Adventure, TEOTWAWKI
The monster from your nightmares is here. It’s destroying civilization. Soon the human race will be extinct.
The year is 2037, and Corporal Kimi Jayden has one chance to rescue the lone refugee girl who is miraculously immune to Reaper absorption. Twelve-year-old Lily walks the deserted streets of Savannah alone, ever since the Reaper absorbed her family—and tried and failed to absorb her—a year ago. An amorphous creature that has nearly wiped out civilization, growing as it feeds, the Reaper assimilates its prey’s intelligence when it consumes flesh and blood. Growing smarter with each human it absorbs, the Reaper transforms into monsters created from our darkest nightmares—and it loves tormenting its victims.
Kimi and her fellow survivors in the North Georgia Renegade Enclave believe Lily’s DNA holds the key to mankind’s survival. But the Reaper covets and abducts Lily, and Kimi must battle a ghastly horde of Reaper incarnations to preserve humanity’s last hope against extinction.
JAGANNATH reveals the resilience and determination of the human spirit in an action-filled tale of terror, selfless courage, and ultimate triumph and redemption.
“What an exciting story and non-stop action! Set twenty years in the future, JAGANNATH is about a monster from the depths of the ocean, awakened by its hunger and its need to feed… and it feeds on humans. After devouring more than half of the world’s population, it has grown to epic proportions and is seemingly unstoppable. There is one remaining chance: a little girl named Lily. Hop aboard for a thrilling adventure!” – Deborah D. Moore, bestselling author of The Journal: Cracked Earth and The Journal: Ash Fall
“Jagannath is a hair-raising, fantastic, adventurous ride. Brilliant, amazing, and impossible to put down. A must-read for all sci-fi/ horror fans. Highly recommended!” – Lynda Fitzgerald, critically acclaimed author of If Truth Be Told, Of Words & Music, and the LIVE mystery series.
A tentacle as thick as a railroad tie burst out of the gap in the crumbling wall. The sinuous limb shot toward the Renegade soldier like a giant compressed spring releasing. Before the soldier could aim his flamethrower at it, the tentacle coiled around him and squeezed.
He shouted for backup, and two soldiers raced toward him. They aimed their wrist-mounted nozzles at the transforming tentacle. Tight streams of blue gel spurted toward the creature’s extended limb, but the soldiers fired too late. The tentacle seeped under the soldier’s visor and touched bare skin, and the Reaper began to absorb him.
Kimi scowled, studying the holographic video of the battle against the Reaper in the dead city of Savannah, Georgia. Safe within the War Room of the North Georgia Renegade Enclave, she had a bird’s-eye view of the chaos and destruction from two days ago. The scene stoked an ever-smoldering fire inside her.
The Reaper had killed her whole family fifteen years ago, one day before her thirteenth birthday. She had hidden, helpless to stop the creature as it consumed them. The loss left a gaping wound inside her that only vengeance could heal.
Her shoulders tensed as she remembered watching her hometown of Jasper, Georgia burn. The raging flames had surrounded her as everyone she knew and loved was absorbed. The Renegade soldiers who came to rescue the survivors were too late to save anyone but her.
Kimi was an orphan in the truest and bloodiest sense of the word.
Joining the Renegades was inevitable. She signed up two years after her rescue at the lawfully acceptable age of fifteen. Ever since that day, she wore the red, blue, and orange insignia of blood, life, and flame with honor and pride.
Though the holo-vid was painful to watch, Kimi’s duty was to observe and learn. She kept her eyes on the soldier, knowing he would respond with the only avenue of escape he had left.
“Fall back!” the soldier called to his buddies. “I’m hitting the fail-safe!”
His voice was loud and close through the War Room’s speakers. He was doomed, but he didn’t cry out as the Reaper soaked up the skin on his neck and jaw. The creature’s pseudo-flesh shifted shape, forming a cocoon around him. But the soldier popped off the cap covering the recessed red button on his hand-grip control before he was immobilized.
Not for the first time—or the last—Kimi wondered why they didn’t call the fail-safe button by its true name: a suicide switch.
The two standing soldiers trained their flamethrower nozzles on the creature as they backed away. Tight streams of fire shot out and ignited the Reaper’s viscous muck, too late to save the dying soldier. But the flames started frying the isolated portion of the creature into yellow smoke and charcoal gray ash.
The doomed soldier pressed the red button, and the potent explosives in his helmet and body armor did their job. The force of the blast made creature-gook spray outward in all directions—along with various body parts.
Kimi gritted her teeth. Had the soldier pressed the suicide switch in time, or did the creature absorb his brain before he died?
When the Reaper rose up out of the oceans’ depths and came ashore sixteen years ago, it seemed like nothing more than an amorphous sludge with the limited intelligence of the aquatic mammals it ingested, a creature of transforming slime that imitated living organisms. It separated into portions like a deploying army, and quickly developed a ravenous appetite for human flesh and blood. But when it began metamorphosing into human form and mimicking people, the evidence was conclusive: the creature was growing smarter, accumulating knowledge with each person it consumed.
The Reaper was not only feeding on their flesh and blood; it was absorbing their minds, and assimilating their intelligence.
And it grew as it fed.
Kimi’s scowl deepened as she watched the holo-vid. She still heard her mother, father, and little sister’s screams, heard them even in her dreams. Being assigned to fly in the follow-up search-and-rescue mission with the eleven other Renegades gathered in the War Room had her stoked.
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Colleagues and readers alike have dubbed Kerry Alan Denney The Reality Bender. The multiple award-winning author of the paranormal thriller Soulsnatcher (Lazy Day Publishing, April 29, 2014 – ISBN 978-1499251777) and the post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Jagannath (coming from Permuted Press February 3, 2015 – e-book ISBN 978-1618684134, trade paperback ISBN 978-1618684127), as well as numerous short stories and eight novels, Kerry blends elements of the supernatural, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror in his novels and short stories: speculative fiction at its wildest and craziest. With joy, malicious glee, and a touch of madness, he writes reality-bending thrillers—even when the voices don’t compel him to. His protagonists are his children, and he loves them as dearly as he despises his antagonists… even when he has to kill them.
Kerry lives near Stone Mountain, Georgia with his Golden retriever Holly Jolly, a professional Therapy Dog, and is currently writing his next supernatural novel and trying his best to remain rooted in this dimension—and trying to decide which characters he’s going to kill.
For more information, please visit www.kerrydenney.com
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