The process of writing a book is different for all writers. Some begin with a character or a voice which begs to be written. But for me, it’s the whisper of a concept—either the idea of fictional world, or an impossible scenario my characters will find themselves in. And concepts never arrive full formed—how useful that would be!—but rather are fluid, morphing from one thought to another until something sticks.
This process of brainstorming, or daydreaming, can take months before I put fingers to the keyboard, making it difficult to remember exactly when or where an idea first struck. But for my latest book, I remember the light bulb moment with great clarity.
Around two years ago, my father and I were driving from Sydney to Melbourne when we passed a forest which had been destroyed by a bushfire. The gum trees were now black splinters against the blue sky, the earth turned gray, no life in sight. I couldn’t help but worry how many animals had lost their homes or perished in the fire.
And the devastation looked so fresh; the black of the bark still ink-dark with no emerald buds of life to be seen. I was sure I could smell smoke as we drove by, but my dad informed me the bushfire had been years ago. I was shocked and saddened that the trees would never regrow—branding the incident onto the landscape for all time.
This idea of a land striped of life sparked a story within me. A story which wouldn’t let go. And for the remainder of the trip, the concept unfolded in my mind. I began wondering what circumstances could’ve led to such a dry and desolate land. And, most importantly, how such a lifeless environment would impact a society forced to endure it.
And so my YA fantasy was born!