I've been asked a time or two where I get my ideas from.
Dark Tide Rising was concrete and fun to write. I went to Humboldt State, lived in Arcata, and spent many days and nights on the same beaches Emily and Mark walked. I've been inside the cave where the murderer hooked Stefanie to the back wall. I've been to the casino where Emily's Uncle Jack worked. I've driven Hwy 101 with its crazy-sharp turns. I've experienced days-on-end rain that is so typical of that area.
But for my paranormal, I didn't have as much to pull from. Sure, it takes place in San Francisco, and I've been there countless times, but the world I was creating was much different. I created an underworld of wicked-cool creatures, like vampires who long to fit into society and shape-shifters who want to keep them oppressed. I created ReVamp, a rehabilitation center for vampires, "acceptable" food sources, closed-circuit vampire television and vampire-specific magazines, etc, etc, etc.
So where did those ideas come from?
I took what I knew, and meshed it with what I didn't.
When I wrote the scene where my heroine was passing through her haven lobby, and caught a glimpse of America's Next Top Vampire on the television, I was actually watching...yup, you guessed it...America's Next Top Model. When my heroine was craving blood and shoved a Blood-Blaster Bar into her mouth, I was on a chocolate fix and eating a bar too...only my chocolaty-nougat wasn't laced with B+.
I took things from everywhere around me. Flower vases on ReVamp's counter are mine, albeit with gothic twists. Buildings are ones I've seen in the city. I could go on and on about the similarities, but I want you to go out and buy the book, come summer.
What about you? Where do your ideas come from?