The Idea of Still Dark
Explaining where stories come from, especially to people that don’t write, is a bit like explaining snow to someone that grew up in a desert. It’s not that they can’t understand it, it’s just such a foreign concept.
So, the short answer to, “How do you come up with ideas?” is very simple. I don’t. There’s no soul searching, no long hours of deep thought. It’s more of a… pop. If I was a cartoon character, there would be huge, orange balloon letters appearing over my head every time I thought of a good story.
I’ve told people as much before, and they don’t seem to want to believe it. Something about the lack of effort on my part is almost offensive to them, as if they expect some romantic ideal of a writer, me staring out at a sunset with a glass of wine in hand as I ponder the mysteries of the world.
It really is that simple though. It could be brought on by pretty much anything. A conversation. The way a house looks driving past. A combination of all these things. And of course, dreams. I always welcome a good dream, even if nothing satisfactory comes out of it. I’ve carried slivers of dreams and nightmares with me for over a decade before the story finally creeps out of it, alive and wriggling.
All of this isn’t to say the actual writing itself isn’t work. It’s a ton of effort to take that idea and turn it into something people would want to read. This is especially frustrating when it’s a good idea. You get to where you can feel it almost alive inside of you, trying to claw its way out, and the only thing between it and the world is you and your patience and willingness to usher it into existence.
This leads to the bane of writers everywhere, the dreaded writer’s block. It’s a problem I look at from two angles. On one side is the question of the ideas themselves. As I already said, they just seem to come to me, so the possibility has always existed that they might just stop. Just thinking about that is pretty damn terrifying, especially because it seems so hard to actually control.
The flip side is when writer’s struggle to finish a work, something I’ve dealt with myself from time to time. This one isn’t nearly as tough to handle, at least for me. It usually comes down to just getting something out there on the paper. Once it’s there, I can actually figure out how to fix it.
For Still Dark, the idea came from the most wonderful and mundane spot imaginable… from a dream. Like I said, no effort from me, at least not at the idea phase. A single image from the book, described pretty much identical to my actual dream. Like a little seed, the story sort of grew up around it. All I had to do was keep watering it.
When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…
Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.
Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!