Do this exercise where you freewrite about the book you would write. (“Writing about” is so much easier than “writing”.) Don’t just describe the plot. Try to get at the feeling of it too, the mood and atmosphere. Be fanciful. You won’t have to abide by this, it’s just an exercise. Think about this too: imagine you are browsing in a bookstore or library, reading flap copy. You’ve had this happen before, you read flap copy that makes your heartbeat speed up, your mind brightens. This book is what you want, it is full of things you love, that fascinate you. You can’t wait to read it. What are those things? Come up with your own ideas that will speed up your heart and brighten your mind.Only one novel of mine was written at all under this sort of sign - The Explosionist. My first novel was the book I felt compelled to write rather than the book I felt huge desire to read, and it was a strange and exciting feeling when I realized - after perusing the shelves of the Bank Street Bookstore to see whether anything else had come out that could reproduce the thrill for me of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and Garth Nix's Abhorsen books - that if the book I most wanted to read didn't yet exist, I had to write it!
The new novel has not been written under exactly that sign - it was more a compulsion to tell a story that would capture some of the intellectual charisma of the theory and practice of role-playing games, plus longterm desire to write something that reimagines The Bacchae. Then when I was revising, I kept on saying to myself, "I just need to make this world as much a one that readers want to enter as I feel about the world of Fringe...."