The first question to put to an author, personally, or through the post, is:

'Where do you get your ideas from?'

The temptation is great to reply: 'I always go to Harrods,' or 'I get them mostly at the Army & Navy Stores,' or, snappily, 'Try Marks & Spencer.'

The universal opinion seems firmly established that there is a magic source of ideas which authors have discovered how to tap.

You merely say firmly, 'My own head.'

That, of course, is no help to anybody. If you like the look of your questioner you relent and go a little further.

'If one idea in particular seems attractive, and you feel you could do something with it, then you toss it around, play tricks with it, work it up, tone it down, and gradually get it into shape. Then, of course, you have to start writing it. That's not nearly such fun--it becomes hard work. Alternatively, you can tuck it carefully away, in storage, for perhaps using in a year or two year's time.'

(Agatha Christie, Introduction, Passenger to Frankfurt, Canada: Fontana, 1970, p.7)

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