Where do writers get their ideas? If you asked me recently, I’m more than likely to say PEOPLE magazine. Two of the best stories I think I’ve written were developed from ideas I got while reading PEOPLE.
My short story MR. SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL was based on an account of a suburban dad who’s son stole a friend’s dad’s gun to buy drugs. When the son was sentenced to a long jail term because the gun was still on the streets, the dad decided to go out on the mean streets and find it. Well I thought that was a great setup and started wondering what would happen if the dad didn’t want to go looking for the gun himself but would rather hire a PI? I switched the gun to a vintage piece of rock and roll memorabilia, set the story in Flint, MI and created a new PI. I think the resulting story turned out quite well.
The other story is the one I just completed. During the height of the Lori Hacking murder case, there was a little blip about the cadaver dogs being used to search local dumps for her body. A few of the details about the dogs and their search methods stuck in my head and I started researching cadaver dogs more in depth and found an article about rescue dogs that had been retrained from looking for live survivors to looking for cadavers after 9/11 and I loved the metaphor of that. I started getting a picture of this lonely man who’s wife had died and he switched his dogs from rescue dogs to cadaver dogs and spent his days looking for dead bodies.
That vision stuck with me and I’ve been looking for a way to write a story using all of those elements for a while now but didn’t have the final piece needed until recently when HARDLUCK STORIES announced they were taking submissions for a blues themed issue. I thought these sad and lonely characters were perfect for a blues song and wrote the story over about a week. I think it’s probably the second or third best story I’ve ever written.
So if I can find story ideas in magazines that talk about celebrity fashion and Nicole Richie’s weight, then ideas are truly everywhere.