I get this question all the time, in various ways and regarding different parts and scenes in my books. I suspect that stretching concepts and ideas is innate to the fantasy writer. It feels very comfortable to me. My imagination never quits. My mind is always generating ideas. Awake or asleep, whatever mysterious spot in my brain is accountable for the creative function is constantly firing shots. Call it a blessing. Call it a curse. It’s just the way my brain works.
Coming up with distinct concepts or original adaptations has to do with asking questions. What if I changed this? What if this happened? What if this other thing happened? I think an author has to be ruthless about asking questions, even when those questions test our comfort zones and make us feel uncomfortable.
Yielding to the imagination means exploring the darkness, embracing the odd and probing the strange. Unleashing the creative process entails rejecting the easy answers and accepting not only your characters’ contradictions but also your world and your experiences. There’s got to be fearlessness to the creative process, a courage requirement; because only when we challenge ourselves to ask beyond the obvious can we begin to glimpse the rest.