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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Because I write urban fantasy and romance, people often ask where I get my ideas. They usually put it like this: “Oh my God, what’s going on in that head of yours?” In order to explain how ideas occur to me, you’re invited to take a little trip through my brain. Warning: Buckle up. I’m not responsible for unplanned side trips.

Earlier today I was getting ready to go shopping when I remembered I had a small check from an insurance company to deposit. I trotted back to my office to look for the check. Pawing through random stacks of mail marked “important stuff – don’t throw away,” I spotted the car license renewal notice. Oh, crap! I’d completely forgotten about it. I set the notice next to my computer so I could renew it on-line when I got home. That’s when I realized my camera software CD was still in the computer. I popped it out, put it in its protective sleeve and lifted the lid on the camera box to put it away. The USB cord that connects the camera to the computer sprang out of the box and jumped on top of my Blackberry USB cord as if to say, “Hey, dude! This is my territory. Move your ass!” Yes! Attack of the Killer Cord.

An eerie feeling skittered down my spine. My writing room was a veritable jungle of cords. I could feel them pulsating with impatience, waiting for the right moment to spring into action. One cord would be victorious, vanquishing all the others, in order to be the Supreme Ruler of the Cord Kingdom. Yes, the War of the Cords would be breaking out at any moment.

Still pondering the idea of electrical cords engaged in prong-to-prong combat, I drove to the store, picked up my groceries and then looked in my purse so I could deposit the check. It wasn’t there, of course. It was still lying on my desk where I’d left it while I went on a little trip to Fantasy Land.

I think of my brain as a labyrinth full of magical twists and turns that lead to places only I can see. Speaking of brains, when I was a little girl, my dad carefully removed the shell from a walnut, so that it came out in one piece. He held it in his palm and said, “Marilee, this is what your brain looks like. See all the little cracks and crevices?”

He snapped it in half. “Your brain has a left side and a right side just like this walnut.”

Unfortunately, my dad failed to mention one teensy but crucial bit of information. For years, when I conceptualized the idea of brain, I saw that walnut. Consequently, I thought my brain was the size of a walnut, rattling around in my empty skull like a lone pea in a tin can. Way to go, Dad.

So, there you have it. A trip through Marilee’s brain. Be glad you don’t live there. If you did, you’d probably be in my next book.

A former teacher and school counselor, Marilee lives in Washington state and writes full time. Her books include The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best award for romantic suspense and Moonstone, Moon Rise and Moon Spun, the first three books in the YA paranormal Unbidden Magic series. Castle Ladyslipper, a medieval romance with paranormal elements will soon be published by Awe-Struck Press. Marilee is a member of RWA, PNWA and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter.


Sue said...

Whoo! You warned us that we'd take a tour around your head, Marilee and you weren't kidding. I'd be very wary if I were in there ;-)

Like you, I take trips into Fantasy Land and forget the boring things of everyday life, like depositing checks, paying bills...

Great interview

ReneeRearden said...

Wow! I could only guess how your brain jumped from subject to subject before I know how fast and often it fires with ideas. I noticed you left out the voices! =D

Great article, btw.

Marilee said...

Yeah, Sue, don'tsay I didn't warn you! Renee, maybe my voices should talk to your voices and we'd get even more ideas.