Where do you get your ideas?

I’ve been asked this question about eleventy bazillion kajillion times and I’ve only been a published writer for about three years.1 Most recently my new (and FABULOUS) publisher Bloomsbury USA asked me, “Where do you get your ideas?” in their author questionnaire. Here’s what I said:

I steal them from Maureen Johnson.2

So now Maureen, the wise one herself, has answered the question and she’s done it so brilliantly and perfectly that I can do what I said I do: steal her idea, which is

brain monkeys

(This is how I imagine brain monkeys look. Though they are actually twin albino pygmy monkeys.)

That’s where Maureen gets her ideas from and it’s So True. Mine come from brain monkeys, too! Nasty little buggers running around in the old brain pain, flinging poo, screeching, tugging at bits that don’t want to be tugged, laughing.

Evil annoying brain monkeys.

Except when they cobble some really cool stuff together like cricket and mangosteens and Elvis and monkey knife fights (though should they really be pointing at themselves?) and quokkas and feminism and runic surfing and it congeals and melds and explodes and winds up being my next book, formerly known as The Ultimate Fairy Book, which is coming out in September and whose brand new title and cover I hope to share with you sometime in the next three or four weeks.

Glorious brain monkeys!

Now we all have the answer to that extremely irksome question. Bless you, Maureen.3

  1. I hate to think how many times Stephen King has had to answer it. I mean, seriously, if he punches the next person to ask, that should be permissible. []
  2. Was probably funnier before the most recent plagiarism scandal . . . []
  3. We must all tell Stephen King before he punches someone. []


  1. eek on #

    Oh My God. I may not sleep tonight with the thought of monkeys crawling around my brain. Thank you very much for that. Like I don’t have enough trouble sleeping or being freaked about things that aren’t there…

    I prefer to think that my ideas come from story fairies that sprinkle them in like fairy dust (far less of a crawly sensation).

    In reality, it’s probably just my seriously over-active imagination – I blame my parents for reading me The Velveteen Rabbit as a child…

    (Still, could be the fairies).


  2. _opal_ on #

    the thought of brain monkeys in my mind is oddly appealing…now i too shall have an answer!
    (i actually was convinced it was magic mushroom spores that gave me my ideas)

  3. Justine on #

    _opal_: Magic mushroom spores? Say NO to drugs!

  4. _opal_ on #

    I forgot about mushroom’s unfortunate connotations. I just like drawing them…

  5. rebecca on #

    re: ideas- my cat whispers them to me at night while i sleep….

    which might explain a few things.

  6. Justine on #

    Rebecca: Have you read Peeps by Scott? If you haven’t I strongly recommend that you don’t . . .

  7. rebecca on #

    justine: it is too late, the parasites live within me. 😮

  8. capt. cockatiel on #

    I’m pretty sure my ideas come from the dust mites in my pillow. But then again, I could be very wrong.

  9. Patrick on #

    capt. – didn’t pullman write a book about that?

  10. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    Aww, the baby marmosets are adorable! I wants them!

    I don’t have brain monkeys, though. My brain is full of sugar gliders. Cute little things, but awfully flighty—they keep giving my ideas and then scurrying off with them.


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