By Lindsay Leslie
I walked into my youngest son’s room, and it was as if the idea pole-vaulted from the floor into my ear and wiggled its way toward my brain. I had accidentally stepped on one of my son’s picture books, and thought, I just broke its spine. Then my mind pinged and ponged to: this book has a spine, what if it were spineless, this book is spineless. I looked at my son and shouted, “This Book Is Spineless!” I jotted the idea down. That’s how it all began, but it probably began way before that, as with all stories needing to be told.
I was always an anxious person (good at faking that I wasn’t), and I feared a lot. I remember going to Six Flags with my family. We were all staring at the Shockwave, a big loop-de-loop ride I believed would be my certain death if I went on it. Overactive amygdala, much? My mom pulled out the bribes, and I’m not just talking ice cream here. She promised me a puppy. Yep, a puppy. I looked her square in the eye and said, “No way!” The anticipation of an event, like riding a roller coaster, always overwhelmed me.
Anxiety continued in various forms throughout my life. Some helpful, some very hurtful. But because of my experiences, I knew that a book about it being spineless and afraid of the story on its pages was one I needed to write and could write. I could take on a serious topic like anxiety and make it palatable, a bit light-hearted, and a little silly. I’m one of those use-humor-to-defuse-a-situation kind of folks. Also, I was set on writing the narrative arc to mimic the rise and fall of those anxious feelings, making sure the reader was invested and helping the book along way. I knew I needed to share that anxiety can be managed, can be faced, and you don’t have to face fears alone.
Going back to the topic of inspiration, I’m often asked when does inspiration strike and where do I get my ideas. This is tough to answer in a finite way. Ideation seems so organic to me. But when I really throw a brain cell at what I’m doing during those idea-creating moments, I can nail down two ways I come up with ideas: creating associations and active sensing.
Now, where do you get your ideas? How do get inspired to create? And, is it hard for you to nail down exactly the process you go through to drum up ideas?
A diary keeper, a journal writer, a journalism major, a public relations executive--Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. When she became a mom and began to tell her kids bedtime stories, Lindsay connected the dots to children’s literature. Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, her debut picture book (Page Street Kids, Feb. 19, 2019). Her second picture book, NOVA THE STAR EATER (Page Street Kids), will launch on May 21, 2019. Her third picture book, WANTED: DUSK RAIDERS (Page Street Kids), will launch in spring of 2020. She lives with her husband, two young boys, and two fur-beasts in Austin.