The Quagmire of my Mind

Rabbit - climbPeople often ask where my ideas come from.  I can answer how to foster ideas.  Simply writing helps that initially, opening your mind up to grasp at the things that fly by it.  Then reading, TV, movies, art galleries, long walks, people watching, tumbling in playgrounds, dog park visits, random conversations and such all help.  But that still doesn’t really answer the question.  In fact the only thing that does is an example.

In mid-2006, a good friend was developing a computer game.  We were over their house when they were tossing around ideas for names, when they mentioned one they’d decided against.  Elementals.  As soon as it was said I had one of those wonderful spark moments.  The tiny flare of a lightbulb over my head.  The word sounded so alive.  Immediately small creatures crawled into my mind, born of the elements.  But what would they look like?  What kind of world would they live in?  What would they do day-to-day?  And when you start asking yourself these kinds of questions, an idea is born.

The idea grew in my mind for many months.  On a trip away from home I did some sketches, and the characters started to develop.  I also did much research: I found that elementals are actually mythical creatures that have ‘existed’ for centuries, and the myths and legends informed my ideas.  That Christmas I wrote the first draft of the story that had evolved in my mind, and it was the first novel length work I’d ever managed.  But in all ways it was a first novel.  A beautiful, exhilarating, and horribly flawed first novel!  Yet it was such a valuable experience and I learnt so much, but the most important thing it gave me was confidence.  I now knew I could write a novel.

That manuscript has been relegated a special place in my bottom drawer, but a year later the world was still in my head.  Inspired by an early image I’d drawn of a character with wilted wings, I wrote a new story.  It had fresh characters, but some themes and ideas filtered in from the old story.  And so the Black Luck Stone was born, the junior fantasy novel that won me the mentorship.


4 Responses to “The Quagmire of my Mind”

  1. 1 Julie Nickerson January 13, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for sharing that – I didn’t know that was where your Elementals idea originally came from. I always assumed they were something you’d been interested in since your childhood as you seemed so in tune with them. Don’t you love those ‘meant to be’ writing moments?! They’re priceless :-)

  2. 2 Katherine Battersby January 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    It certainly did feel as if they’d always been with me, but that I’d only just started seeing them. I’ve always been a child of nature though – always had a very strong connection to the natural world.

  3. 3 Madeline Stephenson February 4, 2009 at 3:52 am


    It has been a while since I have responded to your posts so I’m making up time here and starting at the first one! I have also had these moments and have quite a few things sitting in “the drawer”.

  4. 4 Katherine Battersby February 4, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Mady – I have heard that it is those bottom drawer manuscripts that make the writer, so it must mean you are well on your way :)

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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