People often ask writers where they get their ideas. Ideas are ubiquitous. That’s a fancy way of saying ideas are everywhere.
For example, last weekend I attended an open house for our newly-built multi-million dollar hospital. Over $30 million in new technology alone. Part of this money was spent on washable (as in dunked in water) computer keyboards and talking beds.
Mainly, I went to see the talking beds. Imagine. Beds that speak 12 or more languages and provide music or soothing sounds, like the songs of humpback whales. At the push of a button, the bed will say things like “Hello. I’m your nurse for the day.” The patient can then respond to questions—like “Are you hurting anywhere?”—with yes or no answers.
Unfortunately, patients aren’t allowed access to the control panel at the end of the bed. Which means if you’re unlucky enough to be hospitalized, you’re at the mercy someone else. And, no, they don’t play AC/DC or Led Zeppelin (yes, I asked), though the beds can be programmed with more musical options.
“So, theoretically,” I asked a surgical nurse, “if you have a patient who’s giving you a hard time, you can get even by playing music they hate?”
“Theoretically,” she answered, without pause. “But then I’d have more problems. Like getting the patient back into bed.”
My mind had already slipped into writer mode. Dog Nanny Goes to the Hospital—young woman with pet therapy dog meets handsome doctor. Then someone steals a talking bed. Or a talking bed that won’t shut up. A talking bed that holds a clue to an unsolved murder.
At the end of two hours, all sorts of ideas for a setting had popped into my head. Now all I needed was to figure out how to tie in the washable keyboards.