Where Do Ideas Come From? by Virginia Clay

Welcome to my stop on the Warrior Boy Blog Tour, and I’m delighted to welcome Virginia Clay to the blog to talk about where she gets her ideas from…


Have you ever noticed that there are stock questions which people from outside your particular profession always ask? When I worked in the theatre, audiences were fascinated by how we learnt ‘all those lines.’ As a teacher, dispirited parents often ask how we keep control and now that I have joined the writing ranks, I am usually quizzed on where the ideas come from.

My initial response to this most recent question, is to stare at the sky – not that I credit this as my source of inspiration but more becauseI am grasping for a palatable answer. Not everyone is satisfied with the reply, ‘it’s complicated’ or ‘I can’t quite remember!’ But in truth, I can’talways recall a crystalline moment when an idea was born. More often than not it will be an irregular drip of curiosities, that may continue over a period of years before forming a critical mass.

For a season, before I began writing Warrior Boy, I was pursued nightly by a particularly terrifying lion dream. Then one night, I was so shaken by it that I staggered from my bed to write it down, hoping thiswould make it stop. To my surprise, the act of writing was more like opening a door than shutting one. Warrior Boy had begun his journey into the world.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book, Big Magic, suggests that stories desire to be told as much as we want to tell them, and if we don’t pay attention, we can lose them to others, whose ears and hearts are more open than our own.

I thoroughly adhere to this idea, but whilst I am grateful that Warrior Boy didn’t give up on me and go searching for someone else, I know there are myriad other experiences and observations that added to the build-up of pressure behind that particular door. I cannot simply pin it down to one source. But the greatest joy I have found in engaging with the process is that once you let them in, stories give generously.

In my research for Warrior Boy, I consulted several Maasai warriors and I asked one in particular, if he had ever dreamt about lions. He informed me that, when it is time for a Maasai boy to become a warrior, a lion will call to him repeatedly in a dream, terrifying him in preparation for what he must face. I am sure you can imagine the upsurge in confidence I felt at being on the right path. I was bowled over to think that the lion in my dream was calling to my hero Ben to be made manifest.

So now I hope you see my hesitation – it’s a complex question to answer. But what about you? Is there a story whispering to you in the night or knocking loudly by day? Perhaps it could be time to open the door…

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer such a difficult question!


WARRIOR BOY by Virginia Clay out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

You can find out more about Warrior Boy, and read the first chapter at Chicken House Books. and read my review here.

About The Author…

Virginia grew up in Cumbria, where the persistent rain encouraged her to spend many hours reading, writing and developing a pretty intense tea addiction. Eventually, she made a caffeine-fuelled break for the city to read English at Manchester and then on to London where she worked as an actress for fifteen years. Virginia retrained as an English teacher after moving to Kenya – the home of tea – where she is now enjoying a nice sit down and a cup of decaf with her husband and two young children. You can connect with Virginia on twitter @VClayAuthor and find out more at http://www.chickenhousebooks.com

Huge thanks to Laura and Chicken House Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out the other stops.



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