According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are giant Burmese pythons loose in Florida. A lot of giant Burmese pythons. Originally imported as pets, some either escaped or were set loose in the Everglades about ten years ago, found the environment extremely welcoming, and are breeding fulsomely. A Burmese python can grow to 20 feet long and 250 pounds. They have teeth. They are moving northward out of the Everglades.
As I read this item in the newspaper, something happened in my mind (other than a desire to not meet a giant Burmese python a-comin' through the rye). Who knows how the synapses and axons work? I had been thinking earlier about the YA proposal I'm supposed to be writing, but I wasn't thinking about it as I read the newspaper. Yet, something in my mind went BING! and I suddenly saw my thirteen-year-old protagnist clearly. I even saw the first scene of the novel, which does not include a giant Burmese python and which takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But something about that news item jolted something else up from the swampy Everglades of my brain.
Writing is a mysterious process.
So are the Nebulas (some say, too mysterious). I've ended up with two stories on the final ballot: "Fountain of Age" in the novella category and "Safeguard" in the novelette. I'll be in Austin and posting from there. But that's not until the end of April. Meanwhile: Think giant Burmese pythons.