#1 NY Times Bestselling Author Kendare Blake on Book Ideas

For this week’s Author Crush Friday, we’re doing things a bit different.



This time around, the author, in this case, #1 NY Times bestselling author, Kendare Blake, will let us in on her dirty little secret. Kendare Blake is going to let us know how she comes up with her book ideas. Sit back, relax, and read on! And after you’re done reading make sure to pick up her latest installment in the Three Dark Crowns series, Two Dark Reigns, which is out now.


Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

By Kendare Blake


Where do you get your ideas, is the question most frequently asked of writers, and you’d think it would be an easy enough question to answer. But the truth is, inspiration is a slippery thing. It’s intangible. Creepy. As in, it creeps up on you in fits and starts. Bits and pieces of different concepts drift in and out of a writer’s consciousness. Some of them disappear. Others band together in surprising ways, combining or linking like those mechanical cats from Voltron until they form a giant robot or a novel. Or sometimes they come to you all at once, like they did for me with my most recent fantasy series, Three Dark Crowns.

Three Dark Crowns was a bit of an odd duck that way. It was the first and only time I have ever had an idea spring forth so distinct and fully formed that I can pinpoint the exact day that I had it. It was the end of May, 2013. I was at an event in The Dalles, Oregon, and stuck in the fork of a tree outside the bookstore was a ball of bees. A ball made out of bees. A bee swarm. A beekeeper just happened to be in attendance to quell our fears, and told me that when bees form a ball they are protecting their queen, who is nestled deep down in the center, as they move to a new hive. She also told me that before queen bees leave their old hives, they lay several queen eggs, and when the baby queens hatch out, they sting each other to death. Whichever new queen survives, gets to take over.

I was so fascinated by this. Couldn’t get it out of my head. And on the drive home I started working on Three Dark Crowns, my dark fantasy about triplet queens born every generation on a magical island, and who must at the age of sixteen, murder the crap out of each other to determine who becomes the new ruler. It was, that one time, as easy as that. It has never been that way before, and I don’t imagine that I will ever be that lucky again. I owe a lot to that ball of bees.

Usually, inspiration comes from all directions. From film or TV. Sometimes music. From the desire to explore an idea. My novel Anna Dressed in Blood arose almost entirely from the urge to write something where I could describe entrails.

I’ve always envied writers who get ideas from dreams. Not once have I had a dream that was even slightly useful for storytelling. And I dream a lot. It’s just that all of them are stupid. Really, really stupid; I have no idea what’s going on with my subconscious. Where are my dreams about talking to vampires? Or the ones featuring clever and otherworldly landscapes?

Likewise, I tend to envy those who have a wealth of ideas to choose from. A new, sparkly thing that forms between their ears daily (or gasp! Multiple times in one day). I tend to get a new, worthwhile idea about once every few years. So that’s what I have to write. No choice in the matter; it’s what I’ve got.

But, I suppose it’s worked okay so far. We each have to do things our own way. Everyone’s creative process is different. I guess that’s what makes the questions about where ideas come from so difficult to answer. And also so interesting to ask.



Kendare Blake grew up in the small city of Cambridge, Minnesota. She is a graduate of Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York and received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. She loves to travel, is an advocate for animals, and cheats a lot when she plays Final Fantasy. Adopted from South Korea at the age of seven months, she arrived with the following instruction: “Feed her chocolate.” Though not medically advisable, she and her parents are eternally grateful for this advice. Two Dark Reigns is the third installment in her New York Times Bestselling Three Dark Crowns series.