FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Where do you get your ideas?
A variety of places, and usually in combination. I get ideas from the things I read; the Icelandic sagas were the direct inspiration for No Snakes in Iceland, and I'm currently working on a project inspired by a book on the end of World War II that I read. My stories often begin with a mental image, often inspired the music I've been listening to. I then begin wondering about the events leading up to that image and within moments I've built a story around it. I then jot these ideas in the notebooks I carry.
Other inspirations include favorite films and the places I've visited or lived in. Dark Full of Enemies owes a debt to The Guns of Navarone and The Bridge on the River Kwai, two of the classic war films. Like its protagonist, I'm a Georgia native and an alumnus of Clemson (though there the similarities mostly end). Its Norwegian setting stems from my fascination with Scandinavia and its plot was inspired by actual commando operations--and their unfortunate results--I've read about in a variety of books.
So the answer to the question is really No place in particular. No one book, film, mental image, piece of music, or even dream is the sole source of a book's idea. The thing that brings them all together and makes them work is imagination.
What is your favorite book?
The Divine Comedy. It's why I have a few of Gustave Doré's wonderful engravings from Inferno scattered around the site as slightly ironic banners. Dante is unmatched as a work of poetry, imagination, and philosophy.
That's my immediate answer. If you're asking about favorites of a particular kind of book or in a particular genre, I can't be as specific—or reply so quickly. To that end, I've created a list of my favorites in a few different categories—novels, history, classics, and even film. You can check that out here.
How do you keep track of your ideas? What is your system?
I have good friends who use intricate, carefully organized software like Scrivener to organize their writing projects, but I'm pretty unsystematic. I do draw maps, sketches, charts, and plot breakdowns, but these are often on napkins or scraps of paper. The closest I get to a system is using notebooks, but every page of each might have ideas or doodles for a different story.
For a long time I used a variety of Moleskine notebooks. I especially like the 5x8" unlined notebooks for sketches and the cahiers paperback journals for carrying around. For the last year and a half I've been using Field Notes pocket notebooks, and they've been wonderful. The Last Day of Marcus Tullius Cicero was planned out entirely in one of these little notebooks.
When it comes to the actual writing, I use Microsoft Word. Unromantic and barebones, but it's worked for me since elementary school and does what I need it to do.
When is your next book coming out?
Never soon enough, but if you stick around here you're sure to find out as soon as I do.