My experience has been that when people ask, “Where do your ideas come from?” they really don’t want to know.
For instance: Eight years ago I wrote a story called "Little Girl Down the Way." I submitted it once and it came back. I wasn't surprised or disappointed. "Little Girl..." is a brutal story about the murder of a 7 year old who lived and died -- 40-plus years ago -- just down the way from my apartment in Chicago.
Her passion and death happened decades before I moved into the neighborhood but the Little Girl’s remains weren't unearthed until 9 years ago. The facts of the matter stirred me to write a story in which an unwanted child is hidden in a basement by her mother and, ultimately, is killed by her. The story is seen from the point of view of the little girl who, every day, awakens into the hell of an afterlife and re-lives the nightmare of her life and death. Day after day the years of torment are revisited but never does she give up on the notion that her mother loves her. The story, finally, is a view of how hell and heaven can be the same place in the same time depending on your point of view.
Unpublished, un-circulated, “Little Girl…” was content to live in my trunk. It had lots of company.
A few months ago, "Twilight Tales" asked if I had something they could produce as a podcast for their online magazine. I gave them a choice of one thing or another thing.
They chose the other thing: "Little Girl..." The producer, David Munger, did a great job with a difficult piece. Here's the url...go listen to it, I'll wait for you: http://www.twilighttales.com/podcast/
A short time after it was 'cast, I got a letter. A listener who wrote to say that the story disturbed him -- in the good way that horror should disturb you -- and that, as a father, he’d listened to it several times and found himself both moved and trembling each time.
I thanked him for his kindness and for taking time to write. In return, I gave him a few paragraphs on the background to the story -- just a bit more than I gave you above.
A return email said, in essence: Well! I'm sorry I know that, I thought this came out of your head!
He included a little electric *sigh* somewhere in there -- vexation I guess at finding my murdered Little Girl to be a child of the world not entirely of my imagination. The father in him didn’t want to know that such things happen.
Okay, his disappointment was my fault: I volunteered the information. I guess I understand but see, I think people really don't want to know where the ideas come from.
So, if you've listened to "Little Girl..." would you want to know how close to reality that piece was?
Let me know.