Creativity takes a lot out of us. A lot of what? I think Neil Gaiman says this best. Everything we encounter, every random thought, snatch of conversation, idea provoked by news story or strange juxtaposition of scent and colour goes onto the compost heap. None of these are fully formed stories, but ferment and cohere until that rich soil is ready to sprout something new.
Music strongly influenced my first two novels, in particular the character of Sanjay who, since his diagnosis of terminal cancer, only listens to music by artists who are dead. For me, the best books are like a Motown hit – concise and upbeat, yet with a heart-rending core.