When I was a kid, before I had any thought to become a writer myself, I would often read a book and wonder what it was that inspired the author to write the words they did. Now, years later, I know that inspiration can come from anywhere. I have composition notebooks full of snippets and ideas, sometimes full scenes, all of them inspired by something.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as something I see on TV, or a conversation I’ve overheard. Once I wrote a story with a character based on a man I saw in the airport, an older guy dressed in a purple velvet suit with two gorgeous (and young) women on his arms.
I’m in the middle of brain-dumping a novel inspired by a gothic Victorian house I saw on Zillow. I use Zillow a lot for inspiration for the homes in my novels. There are details that may never make it into my books, but that physical backstory helps me inform and create my characters. Google Maps is a big part of that, too. I like to travel the world using the satellite layers and the little yellow Google Car marker that lets you zoom right onto the street views of places all over the world. That’s a handy thing for creating the perfect setting. It was through Google Maps that I ran across an old cemetary that oozed eeriness, a cemetary that will find its way into a book someday!
It’s a wonderful thing, the way the most random of things can spark a story idea!