I want to lie.
I want to give you the romance of a writer at the dawn of a story. I want to say that the idea for the Rune series strolled into my head on a train ride through spring pastures, or that it came to me in a dream. I want to say that I don’t know, I just put my hands to the keyboard and the series flowed out. But this would be a lie. I know exactly where the genesis of this story began, and it was not a train or a dream or a lightning bolt from the blue.
I got the idea in the shower.
It wasn’t even my own shower. While on my Very Brief Book Tour in Wisconsin for the novel I published traditionally years ago, I was staying with a friend. She had a shower with a complicated and inexplicable system of water delivery. It was not a pair of hot and cold handles, or a giant wheel one wobbles in agony between FREEZE-BURN. I had never seen anything like this contraption, which required one to jiggle here and flip there, turn that, punch this in just so and solve the Faucet Fairy’s three-part riddle in English and Hebrew and Elvish just to win access to water.
To adjust the water while on was every bit as complicated, and I was hampered because I do not wear my glasses while showering. I am devastatingly near-sighted, and if ever you and I are running for our lives from a hungry dragon, knock the glasses from my face and make your escape. My last thought of you will not be charitable, but I will understand. So I stood in the shower in desperate need to change the temperature, which was plummeting though I had not been in there long. Before me was a blur of levers and knobs and pulleys, and I could not remember if I was supposed to wiggle that part there or turn this part here, or maybe I was supposed to twist these two thingamajigs at the same time.
I was in no state to ask my friend to step into the bathroom and deliver another lecture on the function of her shower, and as my hand reached out uncertainly to this blurry mess before me, I saw a runelock. It was only a flash in my mind’s eye, a massive stone lock with circles of runes, and a hand reached out to it in bewilderment. I knew that the hand belonged to a girl of about thirteen, and that she did not know what to do at this runelock. And that was all.
As to the shower, I never did figure out how to adjust the temperature. I finished my Very Brief Book Tour and returned home to my normal shower, which had two levers and a frog who crept through the pipes every few days to hide behind the hair conditioner. I named him Earl, and spent a lot of time chasing him around the bathroom and relocating him to the garden. But he always came back to sit behind the hair conditioner, and then croak in horror when I lifted the bottle away. It was not good for my self-esteem.
I want to erase all of this and lie to you.
It came to me on a bridge.
It came to me in a thunderstorm.
It came to me during a boring day at work.
No. It was the shower.