A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Kate Ormand: Where I get my ideas

The funny thing about ideas is that they seem come when I least expect them. I went through a phase of having NO solid ideas. Nothing I felt I could work with. I thought I was doomed. Every time I really tried to force an idea to come along I ended up with a headache and a not-very-good outline as a result.

Thinking about this made me look back at the books that have worked and focus on where those ideas originated from and what they have in common…


I always say I don’t know with this one. And that’s the truth. I never dreamt I’d be answering interview questions a few years later about it either. As I don’t know the real answer, I put it down to a love of dystopian novels and action films. And that does play a big part – I wrote what I love.


The Upside-Down Fish was inspired by an upside-down goldfish I had as a pet when I was younger. It lived at my gran’s house in a tank with another fish that swam the right way up, and I remember my brothers and I being quite fascinated by it. I thought about what the purpose of telling a story about this fish would be, and the importance of being true to yourself and accepting both similarities and differences felt like a fitting message.


I used to work somewhere that’s big on recycling, and we make sure to recycle properly at home, too. But sometimes there’s confusion, when I’m holding an object wondering which bin it’s supposed to go in, and that’s just what happens to Pierre when he’s faced with the two. This started with the bins – a greedy, smelly garbage bin, and a sad, hungry recycling bin – and the rest followed from there.


I saw a poster on my way to college one morning. It was bright yellow, faded and worn in places, advertising a circus. I remember catching sight of it as we drove by and saying, “What do you think about a circus book where all the animals are shapeshifters?” And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.


Tough Cookie_covermed
Tough Cookie was inspired at Christmas, most likely due to gingerbread-overload. I wore a lot of gingerbread-themed pyjamas, made a gingerbread house, saw gingerbread everywhere, and got the idea for a story about a gingerbread man baked without ginger and therefore doesn’t really feel like a gingerbread man at all. He’s mischievous and cheeky, but comes to realise the positive effects of kindness. It’s not actually a Christmas story, but gingerbread men are generally Christmassy, so it’s a nice read for the holidays!

So it just goes to show, when I’m not actively seeking an idea and think my idea-bank has run completely dry, it hasn’t, and it won’t — the ideas are always there, but they’ll only come out when they’re ready. At least I hope they will.

img_111511Kate Ormand
Kate Ormand is YA author of DARK DAYS and THE WANDERERS. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She graduated from university with a first class degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate also writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise. Kate is represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd.


This entry was posted on April 8, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .

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