A good place to start: how to find the idea that can drive a novel – Culture & Entertainment News | The Irish Times – Mon, May 19, 2014

Joanne Clancy

Irish writers Emma Donoghue, Dermot Bolger, Liz Nugent, and Karen Joy Fowler talk about where and how they find their inspiration with Irish Times journalist, Sinead Gleeson. (I’ve also added my own comments and personal experiences.)

Writers are often surprised by how ideas come to them – online, an overheard conversation, a flash of something while doing the dishes. Kevin Barry has spoken of a murky period in the morning between waking and reconnecting to the world. Here, he believes, is where some of the real gold of the imagination is to be found.


“For my first novel, I started with a historical event in which the motivations of the main player were puzzling to me,” says Karen Joy Fowler, the winner of this year’s Pen/Faulkner Award. “Why would anyone do such a thing, I asked myself, and then started the book to answer that question.”

The idea of…

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