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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Cat Rambo’s Ideas For The Asking: A Guest Post!

Cat Rambo is a very busy speculative fiction writer and editor, who has been nominated for Endeavor, World Fantasy and Nebula Awards, been published in many SF magazines and on-line and co-edited anthologies. She has also been President of the Science Fiction Writers of America and runs writing classes, along with award-winning writer Rachel Swirsky(we published one of Rachel's early stories in Andromeda Spaceways). After years of writing short stories, Cat has finally taken to novel writing with the first two novels(and a novelette) set in her world of Tabat. Today, Cat has kindly agreed to do a guest post for us. This one is about the question writers are asked so often: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Take it away, Cat! 

Ideas For the Asking

Where do you get your ideas, my youngest brother asked as we were driving to dinner. I shrugged and said, Everywhere. He eyed me sideways, as though to say, it has to be harder than that.

But the truth is that I’ve always tried to look at the world in different ways. As a child, a favorite activity was looking at the ceiling and imagining what it would be like to live from that angle -- not so different from our own life, but with much more inconvenient doors, for one. Or later, looking at public spaces to imagine what a superhero battle would be like staged there -- where was cover, where the blind spots or perches?

Everywhere I go, I wonder about the stories around me. What’s behind that door? What is that couple arguing about? Why is that white car parked illegally? And lacking answers I supply my own, making up stories: Narnia. The fact that she’s a werewolf. It’s parked while its occupants search for spies from another planet.

What if the world was different is the question so many speculative fiction writers ask. Sometimes we want to make a point, other times we just want to explore and extrapolate, as with Edward Abott’s Flatland, or just descend into whimsy, going behind the looking-glass into Wonderland.

The only thing I have learned is that the way to stop getting ideas is to stop paying attention to them. It’s when I’m writing every day, putting things down as they occur to me. Not waiting for things to bubble up through the slow filter of my daily thoughts but descending into the word mines to hack up pieces that are just crude word ore: lumps of phrases and sentences that may or may not yield coherency upon refinement.

If an idea comes in the small hours of the night, I wake long enough to scribble down a roadmap back to that visit: A woman decides she wants to become a grove of trees, fences create ghosts and Albert falls in love with one, jungle druids and Tabatian merchants. There is nothing more frustrating than to remember one had a good story idea, but not what it was. It’s torturous.

Rachel Swirsky teaches a class for my school called Ideas Are Everywhere ( It’s true. We swim in a world full of them, and sometimes the trick is knowing which to pick. Here I find that having written two dozen stories and now two novels in the world of Tabat is helpful. I just finished up another novelette, and there’s plenty more to come.

And here is the blurb about new novel Hearts Of Tabat

Hearts of Tabat:

In Tabat, Beasts -- magical creatures like dryads, minotaurs, and centaurs -- question a social order forcing them into its lowest level. Adelina Nettlepurse, scholar and secret owner of Spinner Press, watches the politics and intrigue with interest, only to be drawn into its heart by a dangerous text and a wholly unsuitable love affair with a man well below her station. When Adelina's best friend and former lover, glamorous and charming gladiator Bella Kanto, is convicted of sorcery and exiled, the city of Tabat undergoes increasing turmoil as even the weather changes to reflect the confusion and loss of one of its most beloved heroes.

If you’d like to buy, try one of these addresses: 

You can also pre-order on iBooks, where you’ll find Cat’s short fiction, if you can’t wait to read her stuff! 

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