I was recently at an event and people asked me where I get my story ideas from. I tried to explain as best I could, but I could tell that they weren't completely sold on what I said, but it was the truth. I usually respond to that question by saying "Everyday life. People I meet, and places I go often inspire me." While that is true, what I usually don't say is that I see things a little differently than most people. As a writer, I see (or create) a backstory. Maybe I meet a guy with a limp. No biggie, right? Well, in my mind he might have been attacked by some malevolent being in the woods behind his house. Maybe I meet a man who's just acting a little weird. To me, he might be in a secret society, sent to spy on another person who also happened to be there. If I see a woman at the grocery store who looks particularly haggard. It might be that she's been up all night caring for a colicky baby, or it might be that she's just spent the night fighting a demon for the right to keep her soul.
The truth is that ideas just come to me all the time. Sometimes I let them simmer until they boil over into a story. Sometimes I just expound on what I've seen. A perfect example is an abandoned bank vault sitting on a vacant lot. Most people see a rusting hunk of junk. I saw an elemental (small earth spirit) that was trapped inside for fifty years and is released by accident when a man cuts the vault up for junk. Now, the years of entrapment have changed her into a flying bundle of death hell-bent on exacting revenge on the small town that has kept a secret hidden in plain sight all these years.
A perfect example is the photo attached to this blog. I watched many people walk through this passage at Rock City in Tennessee. No one seemed to notice that the walls of this passage looked like moss-covered skulls, screaming out for relief from an eternity of torment. To most people, it looks like moss on rocks. To me, it didn't. I saw something completely different.
The truth is that, as a writer, I see the world differently than most people and I love it. My imagination is always working, sometimes in odd ways. Sometimes my stories end up very strange, even unpublishable. But that's okay too. Even the oddest stories will eventually find a home and a reader who appreciates them. I feel eternally grateful for those readers, for they make it possible for me to do what I do, which is to continue to see the world a little differently and write about it.