Guest Blog by Roberta Trahan: Inspiration (or How Story is Born)

By Roberta Trahan (author of The Well of Tears & The Keys to the Realms)

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”  Neil Gaiman

One of the most common questions asked of authors by readers is “where do your ideas come from?” I love to hear the answers given by other writers, as they are as varied and unique as the writer. Jayne Anne Krentz once told the story at a reading I attended of how a blue vase she saw in a shop became the foundation for a mystery novel, and then of course, there is Stephen King’s infamous (and facetious) response when asked how he came up with such terrifying stories – “I have the mind of a small boy. It’s in a jar on my desk.”

In my experience, story itself does not magically appear in mind fully developed and translatable. Rather, story emerges when a raw thought sticks in my craw and demands examination. From examining comes questioning and from questioning comes imagining. And from there, anything is possible.

“I don’t believe that a writer “gets” (takes into the head) an “idea” (some sort of mental object) “from” somewhere, and then turns it into words, and writes them on paper. At least in my experience, it doesn’t work that way. The stuff has to be transformed into oneself, it has to be composted, before it can grow into a story.” –Ursula LeGuin

Ideas are everywhere. My Dream Stewards series (The Well of Tears and The Keys to the Realms) arose from raw thoughts suggested by a series of random conversations with acquaintances on a number of topics – ancient religions, tribal cultures, Celtic history, and folklore. For example, the magical Order of the Stewards was inspired by an artistic concept for a painting based on Native American shamanism described to me in a conversation with an artist. The mystical well in The Well of Tears was inspired by a historian who told me about an ancient village in Wales that was built around a pool of water that was believed to have healing properties. The powerful amulets in The Keys to the Realms were suggested by an antique necklace I found in a thrift shop. I could go on, but you get the (ahem) idea.

For me, the moment of inspiration is when an idea breaches the surface of random rumination and breathes aloud “What if?” THAT is the moment a story is conceived. It is through the process of answering that fundamental question that a writer then begins to mold a raw thought into a fully formed tale. The source of that idea can in fact be anything – but the inspiration that gives birth to a story comes from a writer’s willingness to entertain and explore the possibilities. And as Neil Gaiman suggest, have the presence of mind to realize when that creative moment occurs.


In a war ravaged land, a powerful sorceress fights for her family, her order, and the one king who can save them all…

“Trahan’s fantasy debut begins a series that echoes Arthurian lore and pays tribute to the spirit of those stories. Inspired by Welsh and Cornish history and legends, this quasihistorical fantasy should appeal to fans of Celtic mythology and Arthurian tales.” (Library Journal)

Roberta Trahan is a former journalist and marketing professional who always wanted to write a book. And then she did. Her first novel, THE WELL OF TEARS (Book One of The Dream Stewards) was released in September 2012. The sequel, THE KEYS TO THE REALMS (Book Two of The Dream Stewards) will be released in May 2014.

To learn more about Roberta and her writing or to connect online, visit her here: FacebookTwitterAuthor BlogWebsite


Jeff Wheeler

Jeff Wheeler

Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over forty epic fantasy novels.

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