When I think back to the first book I ever wrote - the 120,000 word epic that was What Lurks Through the Mirror, I can only think of one source of inspiration for it: choice.
I was going through a tough time. I had some social problems that I wasn't addressing. I had some big exams coming up. I wasn't sleeping right. I felt a lot of pressure at home to do well.
I wanted to change my whole life, right then and there, and I felt I was lacking one very important element: choice. To me, it felt like my whole life was being planned out for me by everyone else. It felt like I wasn't allowed to have proper friends, or to do anything other than study, or to have a night's sleep that wasn't disturbed by dread and bad dreams. Worse still, it felt like I wasn't allowed to talk about these things.
So, I created Sarah Tane, a teenage girl who was going to escape her boring, quiet life. At first, things were going to be scary. She was going to have to face monsters and magic, and none of it would make sense. But then, then, she was going to get away from it all. A magic mirror was going to fall on top of her, and drag her into a little room with large mirrors, and each one was an opportunity.
I gave Sarah a choice, to live a life without magic, exploring the streets of New York, and enjoying the hustle and bustle of a world so much like her own, but with the excitement that was lacking.
Or, she could explore the ruins of a broken world, all grassy plains and strange people - a strange breed of dragon and human, or angelic warriors missing only their wings, or a wizard in a house surrounded by a perpetual storm.
Or, she could find home in a very old kingdom, sit on a throne that she was told was rightfully hers, where magic existed in artefacts in the market, and people treated her with admiration and respect.
Sarah Tane was different. Sarah was Chosen. She could decide her own fate. She had everything I wanted, and I was able to give it to her just like that. I gave her adventure, excitement, magical powers to free a kingdom, and the noble heart to choose to do right by everyone - to save the worlds from an evil that threatened everything. I gave her courage, and found some of my own.
Fate and destiny were a big deal for me then. I didn't think everything was mapped out so rigidly, once I actually put some positive thought into it, because there was something Sarah had that everyone else had too: the ability to make a choice.
I spoke up about the social problems I was having, and guess what - everything else got better, too.
I was inspired to write the book because I didn't see that I had a choice in anything I did, and doing so gave me more choices than I ever dared dream of. I think it's fair to say that if I hadn't written that book, however poorly written it actually is, I wouldn't be writing anything. Writing makes me happy with my life, but I had to realise that first.