Friday, June 14, 2024

Where do You Get Your Ideas? Lloyd Alexander responds

It must have been in the late 1970s that I read Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (five novels, plus occasional shorter pieces collected in The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain in 1982). I liked them, but wished they were a little less juvenile. Soon afterwards I also read his early novel, Time Cat. (This was before I declared the subgenre of cat fantasies verboten.) And I think I read a few others, but didn't persist as I preferred fantasies written for adults rather than for children.  

Recently, I ordered from ILL a children's book Where Do You Get Your Ideas? (1987) by Sandy Asher. It includes some original replies by writers to whom Asher had sent her question in advance.  I was after one author's reply in particular, but I was pleased to see the following comment from Lloyd Alexander, which stirred memories.

Ideas, I think, come from two places. Outside—that is, everything we see and do, and everything that happens to us. And inside—when our own special imagination starts mixing with the outside.

Some years ago, my beloved orange cat, Solomon, gave me the idea for a book called Time Cat. Solomon had a way of suddenly appearing in my workroom, then disappearing before I noticed that he had gone. This made me pretend that he was magically able to visit any of his nine lives whenever he felt like it. Time Cat was my first fantasy for young people and I have Solomon to thank for it. (p. 11)


  1. "wished they were a little less juvenile"--I once felt that way, but today have a greater respect for them as middle-grade stories. The Westmark trilogy might be a bit more to your taste. I was particularly impressed with the middle volume, _The Kestrel_, definitely for older readers, though still YA.

  2. Douglas A. AndersonJune 17, 2024 at 11:17 AM

    Thanks, David. I read the first of the Westmark series not too long after it came out, but didn't continue on. I enjoyed it but wasn't enthralled.