I got my first book-specific “Where did your ideas come from?” question at lunch with the rest of the marketing department yesterday.

Sure, I’ve gotten this question before, but it was always really general. That one’s easy. You just say, “From living.”

Which doesn’t make great interview copy, but it’s true.

But this question was in specific reference to God’s War. “Where did you get the idea for the book?”

I mean, how do you answer a question like that? It really did stop me cold, though it’s the hugest cliche question in the field and I should have been over prepared for it (well, the biggest cliche question other than, “My aunt/cousin/niece/nephew/friend’s brother’s dog wants to be a writer could you read their stuff/meet with them/send them an e-mail and tell them if they’re any good/how to “break in”/read some of their stuff?” I’ve gotten that one loads and loads of times and whenever people ask it, I’m still dumbfounded that they don’t know what a tired cliche that request is).

Where did I come up with the idea for God’s War?

Schenectady.

The real answer would take me half an hour, and you’d hear all about South Africa, and bugs, and dying for a year, and getting an IUD, and chronic illness, and being weak, and kickboxing, and failed relationships, and heartbreak, and fear, and personal disaster. The real answer would mean reading four years worth of blog entries and only getting a sliver of the story. The real answer isn’t the answer anybody’s looking for.

The real answer is life, a life that’s not ours, and we don’t have enough head space or time or patience to get a grip on something like that.

Which is why we read books.

And why I write them.

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