One time when I was extremely sleep deprived and irritated, I went about my day trying to avoid any human interaction because I knew I'd bite their heads off. Or explode. I literally had this little mental video going on of myself exploding from sheer rage. The more I pictured this, the more it interested me. So I invented a magical race that, if they didn't strictly control their feelings, would literally explode from extreme emotion.
In my Physics class we were learning about waves and what particularly caught my attention were sound waves. I came up with vibration magic and a race that uses this magic, but also uses vibrations as a sort of sixth sense.
On a train returning from Eastern China to my home in the North of China when I saw kilometers and kilometers of farmers burning their fields creating a semi-apocalyptic feeling whilst listening to the Fear Factory album "The Industrialist" was when I outlined an idea for a sentient computer taking over the world through genetically engineering humanity.
Many years ago I was hiking, with a friend, on the South Downs [a row of hill not far from where I live - Think of The Chalk in the Tiffany Aching stories by Terry Pratchett].
It was an early evening/later afternoon at the end of summer and we were still a few miles from our camp-site. It had been bright and warm, but then we saw the Thunderstorm ahead of us.
There were flashes of lightning that only seemed to get closer and more frequent. The air around us felt like it was tingling and it tasted metallic.
There was a real sense of urgency as we walked faster and faster trying to race the oncoming storm to find somewhere safe and dry to shelter. We got to a vehicle shed [still a mile or two from our camp-site] just as the rain reached us. We sat out the storm in a corrugated iron shed on the top of a hill as lightening and thunder broke all around us. It was deafening and we were terrified that the shed would be struck by a bolt or twelve.
It was awe inspiring, scary, amazing, magical and fantastical.
Being in the middle of that storm made me want to write something EPIC.
I haven't got there yet, but I'm still hoping.
Never had inspiration in a weird place as I don't tend to dwell in weird places.
A friends' child was practising the alphabet and a rather bizarre looking A. From that I made it the main symbol in a novel that I then wrote around that concept.
Sponge Bay, Gisborne. During one of my most successful attempts at surfing - I actually managed to finally get up on the board for a whole second, maybe even a second and a half - I fell off and got hit in the back of the head by the board, then dragged under by the waves. Didn't drown - I think - but did see quite a few rather wondrous lights under the water, and while choking my way back to the shore. It made me think a lot ever since then about magical systems.
Also the Heywoods Hill Road when I was nineteen. Once I followed a car - actually a whole queue of cars overtaking a truck up hill with limited visibility because of the crest of the hill. It was an incredibly stupid thing to do as I discovered when a car came barrelling over the crestof the hill the other way, while I was on the wrong side of the road. The thing is that I don't know what happened next. Somewhere between seeing the car streaking at me and my ending up parked on the side of the road, I lost the truck, the oncoming car, the road, and a fair few seconds of memory. It's happened a couple of other times under certain shit scary situations. And it keeps making me wonder about the fundamental nature of time and reality. That plays into some of my sci fi.
I get inspiration from my backyard. We live in a cabin deep in the mountains, surrounded by thick forest and enormous ridges. With such beautiful scenery, I can't help but wonder what sorts of dark activities could take place in those woods.
This maybe isn't as weird as it's just interesting, but once I was struggling with coming up with a fun adventurer character and couldn't just get out anything I liked no matter how much I tried. Then while talking to a friend she for some reason told me the written meaning of her name, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for what I as trying to do; Agile Poet hahaha =]