Where I Get My Ideas

It’s one of those questions we in the creative industry get asked a lot, and the answer is both project-dependent and frequently more complicated than you would think.

In the case of Timepiece, though, it’s more straightforward than usual.

Timepiece was born when a friend of mine told me about a dream she’d had, in which a package arrived in the mail for her then-infant son. Inside the package addressed to him was a package addressed to me (how odd, she thought) and inside that was a velvet bag containing a pocket watch. Opening the pocket watch, my friend discovered the period casing contained a futuristic-looking screen cycling through images of different historical times and places. “I think I had your dream, Heather.”

I tried to write a story about me and her son and the pocket watch, including a reason for the nested packages, but I couldn’t get it to gel. A pocket watch seemed to belong to an older era anyway…so maybe this wanted to be a Victorian time travel story. Maybe steampunk—huge mechanical monsters stomping down a gaslit street? Yeah. Stomping after what? What would mechanical Victorian monsters hunt? Something natural run amuck, of course. The Victorians would totally build monstrous scientific artificial things to constrain monstrous natural things.

Okay, so where did the run-amuck natural things come from? And when? It would have to be long enough before the Victorian era—say 1885—for the organic monsters to become a problem, generate a solution, and have time for the solution to become its own problem. Seventy to eighty years, say? What was going on in England seventy to eighty years before 1885?

Five seconds later, I was scrambling for Wikipedia to look up the dates of the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Five seconds after that, I knew exactly what the story was about.

In January, you can find out too. Timepiece can be pre-ordered here.

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