For those of you that don’t know me I’m Michael Tinker Pearce, best known as a knife and sword maker but I am also a writer. Mostly I collaborate with my wife Linda S.Pearce. You can find our work here:
One of the questions that writers often get asked is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ It’s a well-intentioned question, but writers generally hate it. Lately I’ve taken to answering, ‘There’s a clearing-house in Poughkeepsie; I just send them a monthly payment and they send me ideas.’ Some people have actually asked me to email them a link, so I’ve pretty much had to stop that.
The truth is that asking a writer where they get their ideas is like asking a fish where they get the water that they breath. They are literally swimming in it and probably never gave it a second thought. Likewise the writer’s inspiration comes from their physical and intellectual environment. They are surrounded by a world of ideas, and being writers some of these ideas latch on and take hold.
I can’t speak for all writers of course, but we never have an idea spring upon us fully developed. It starts with a seed that results in questions and grows from there. Our first novel, ‘Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman,’ started with a comment in World of Warcraft about ‘Regiments of Dwarven Riflemen.’ I got to thinking about that- how would such regiments evolve, and how would they fit into a Medieval fantasy world? Technologies are viral and spread like crazy, so if dwarves had rifles why wouldn’t everyone? What kind of rifles? How are they employed? Who are these dwarves and where do they live? What is their culture and where did they come from? The answers to every question spawned more questions and from these grew a world.
Once there was a world to set the story in we needed an idea for a story, and of course we didn’t want it to be the same as every other epic fantasy out there. That idea was slow in coming, but eventually it did come and the story evolved from there. That idea again came from our personal environment. I was re-reading Louis L’Amour’s ‘Comstock Lode’ and thought, ‘What if this story were set in our world, rather than the real world?’ So we set out to write that, but then the logic of the world and the character took over and we wound up straying quite far from that original concept. This happens to writers a lot, I understand, because the ideas don’t stop coming. Ever. A lot of writers express that they must write to see what happens next and this certainly matches our experience.
Of course there are leftover ideas at the end of the book, and the we wanted to see how those would play out so we wrote the novella ‘Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman: Rear Guard’ and are working on the full-length sequel ‘Lord of the North.’ Because the ideas just never stop coming.
Our current work-in-progress, ‘Rage of Angels,’ was spawned from a National Geographic special about an invasion of the earth by aliens. It was pretty intelligent and interesting, which is not true of most popular media alien-invasion stories. It got me thinking about how smart aliens would go about attacking the earth, and what could we do about it? But we still didn’t have a story. Then Linda got the idea to combine the ‘smart’ invasion with the military science-fiction world of my short stories ‘The Killing Machine’ and ‘What Happens in Dubai…’ and we were off and running. Once again the logic of the characters, the story and the world took over and we’re writing to see what happens next. We know roughly how it’s going to end, but how we get to that ending is still a path awash in the sea of ideas.
So there’s a recipe; be aware of and interested in the world around you. Ideas are everywhere. Once one sticks start asking and answering questions and you’ll have your story soon enough. Don’t know the answers? Well, luckily we’re living in the ‘Information Age’ and the answers are just a click or two away. I’m constantly breaking off from my writing to research a particular point on the internet, or to do math to see how something will work out, or in fact if it will work at all.
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce lives in Seattle with his wife and co-author Linda. He got the nickname 'Tinker' in the 1980's when he was at various times a soldier, college student, a bodyguard, a private investigator, a meat-carver at a restaurant, a police officer, an illustrator, heavy equipment operator, competition shooter, cover-copy writer, outlaw road-racer, Drill Instructor Candidate, receptionist, executive assistant to the heads of corporate banking at Citycorps, Tobacconist, courier for a currency exchange etc.
He finally settled down to become a knife and sword maker, specializing in the blades of medieval Europe and the Viking Era. He is the author of 'The Medieval Sword in the Modern World,' and the designer of the CAS Iberia Tinker Line of medieval swords and trainers. He is a trained theatrical fighter and choreographer, and a student of Historic European Martial Arts. He co-authored the Foreworld novella 'The Shield Maiden' and the couple released their first novel 'Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman' in early 2013. They released a sequel novella, 'Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman: Rear Guard' in September 2013. Their second Foreworld Novella 'Tyr's Hammer' was published in October 2013.
The couple is currently working on their second novel, 'Rage of Angels,' a hard-science military science-fiction story based on the events in 'The Killing Machine' and 'What Happens in Dubai.' They hope to complete this book by the end of 2013.