For my first novel, War Remains, the answer is a long one, which involves talking about writing for the Korea Times back in 2000, interviewing veterans and then, talking about how I wanted to do something special for the 60th anniversary of the conflict.
On the other hand, inspiration can be a snippet of a conversation, like the one I had with a female expat on the Number 9 bus in Hamamatsu, Japan one cold, rainy November day in 1989.
This woman, who boarded the bus after I did, sat down across from me, and in the short time that it took for us to reach the downtown bus terminus in front of Hamamatsu Railroad Station, had told me her expat life story since arriving to teach English one month earlier.
It hadn’t been easy for her, but she was optimistic. “As long as I have my Cokes and Smokes” I’ll be okay.
What she said was profound enough to stay with me all these years until I sat down last year and wrote this story.
Sometimes that’s all it takes to write a story.