My background is fairly varied--I have a PhD in biomedical engineering and work as a Communication Manager for a nonprofit pharmaceutical organization that develops medicines for people in poor and underserved areas. I also have an MFA and am a founding editor for the literary journal flashquake.
I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my novel. I’m certain it’s different for every writer but for me, setting drives my imagination. Anytime I visit a place, whether in real-life or in my thoughts, the wheels start turning. I begin all of my scenes with description. You won’t see that in my finished work, of course, but it’s important that I set the scene for myself so I can visualize, taste, smell and hear the possibilities.
Once I’ve narrowed in on a place, I have to pick a timeframe. Historicals are more interesting to me than current day fiction, in terms of writing anyway. Fiction is our best bet for a real escape, if only for a few hours at a time. Why not escape to a completely foreign society, one with colorful props and mouthwatering smells? And if that society has already existed, already has rules and conventions, all the easier for me! Seriously though, I’ve never found a better story than our own world history.
With time and place in hand, I try to amass every relevant book I can get my hands on. Some are fiction; most are not. In order to really understand a different society, you have to know how that society came into being, who the players are, what the common folk are like, what they eat, dress in, play, and all sorts of details in between. It’s really quite heady. And I’m sure you can see how it leads to all sorts of tales and fancies.