The Crime Readers' Association

CRA Blog Author Chris SimmsCRA Blog Author Chris SimmsFeatured Author Friday: Chris Simms

10th January 2014

The question authors dread.

They stare at me in silence, hands raised high.

It’s the part of a talk when I feel like David Dimbleby on Question Time. Who should I point to? ‘OK, the dark-haired lady in the turquoise top.’

Hands go down as she takes in breath. ‘I was just wondering, where on earth do your ideas come from?’

I smile back, hoping it looks genuine. ‘My…my ideas?’

Another author told me her response when asked this particular question. ‘ It has masses of them.’

There are always a few audience members who start noting down the address before she lets them know she’s joking.

It’s a killer of a question, you see. It’s the question that causes an author’s armpits to prickle and their feet to squirm. The question has that effect for one simple reason: there is no simple answer. At least, not one that will satisfy that lady in the turquoise top. The one still looking expectantly in my direction.

Some authors reckon there is no answer at all. Robert Louis Stevenson believed that the idea for Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde was brought to him in a dream by spirit people. He even had a name for these mysterious folk – brownies.

I, too, have been woken when a story sparks in my mind. Will the lady be happy if I tell her my ideas are whispered into my sleeping ears by pixies? I doubt it. I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by that response, either.

So, each week this month, I shall attempt to answer where the ideas for some of my novels came from – starting with Outside the White Lines, next Friday.

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