Sometimes book ideas take time to grow and mature and other times they just pop up out of nowhere. Rink Rats was a natural because I am at the rink so much. I watch all these young girls maturing in both their skating and their persons and I thought, this is a perfect backdrop for a story. Some take much longer.
Take Colorless for instance. I thought of the concept of colorless three or four years ago, but in a short story format. A very pale teen girl has friends who are Latina and Asian and feels colorless, both physically and culturally. I could never find a suitable conflict for her that would promote change so I left it... but it never went away. I was at a very different place in my career and just wanted to get my nonfiction going. Well, in this last year when I started writing YA in earnest, the idea came back to me. The market place is very different and all of a sudden paranormal was mainstream and time travel normal. That's when it hit me... she could time travel and learn about her own culture and voila! The book was born. It wasn't until I was in the act of writing the first chapter that another aspect of the plot leapt into my mind and added an extra dimension to the book that I think rounds out the entire book and makes it so much more fun. The idea took four years to mature and ripen.
Now with Dead Teens Talking, (working title only) my latest idea, I started with a character. I knew I wanted to do a book about an oral deaf girl. That means one who doesn't know sign language. My neice is profoundly deaf and is completely oral. She reads lips and uses what residual hearing she gets from her hearing aids to see what you are saying and then speaks. Quite well, actually. But I knew that if I had a deaf protagonist, my story better be smoking or people wouldn't be interested. Within the last week a story developed and with several emails to Shannon Mckeldon, it became more well rounded with some fab plot ideas.
Then she told me about a chick lit idea that she just thought of. A couple ideas came to my mind concerning hers and now she is having to write them all down before she forgets... Now her plot is forming and taking shape. Then bouncing off of her chick lit idea, I had an idea for another YA. Don't know whether she's gonna run with that idea or not, but the energy is fab. (Note to self: make arrangments to meet with Shannon as soon as possible for a brainstorming session and map out our books for the next several years)
So be on the lookout people... you never know when you are going to get a fab idea. And don't discard them to quicvkly... they may take years to fill in, but will be really worth it when they do!