"Where do you get your ideas?" we writers are often asked. And though most of us have our stock non-answers -- "The right frontal lobe of my brain," for instance, or "K-Mart" -- my reply is a little different.
Q.: Where do your best ideas come from?
A.: Jason Rekulak.
Jason's the publisher of Quirk Books. A few years ago, he came up with the Mother of All High Concepts -- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He handed off the idea to writer Seth Grahame-Smith, who was wise enough to know (like me) that good ideas don't always come from your own right frontal lobe. The resulting book went on to sell five bajillion copies and spawn a film adaptation that's coming soon to a theater near you (provided you define "soon" as "sometime before the universe collapses in upon itself and becomes a dimensionless singularity devoid of life, matter or even the laws of physics as we currently understand them"). When Seth decided one PPZ book was enough for him, I got to write the prequel and the sequel, which is why I can now stick the phrase "New York Times bestselling author" in front of my name. Thanks, Seth!
About a year ago, Jason contacted me with another idea. He had a doozy this time, too.
Imagine, Jason said, a series of middle-grade books about a pair of MacGyverish kids who use their gadget-building skills to solve mysteries. Now imagine that the gadgets -- unlike the flying washing machines and toaster flame-throwers on MacGyver -- are completely plausible. Now imagine that the books include directions and diagrams so that kids can build the gadgets themselves. And now imagine, Steve, that you're writing the books.
Well, I did more than imagine it. I found a partner -- gizmo-building wiz Science Bob Pflugfelder -- and I did it.
The first book in the series, Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab, comes out today. I think Bob and I did a pretty darned good job with it, and the reviews agree. Amazon does, too. It's named Nick and Tesla the best middle-grade book of the month.
There are at least three more Nick and Tesla books on the way, plus I've got my new tarot-themed mystery series (co-created with Lisa Falco -- with some key input from Jason Rekulak) launching next year. So I'm going to be very, very busy for a while.
Still, if Jason calls to say "Steve -- I've got an idea...," you can bet I'm not going to hang up.