What do you care about? What interests you? What do you find so intriguing that you want to know more about it?
When I talk to students who are looking for ideas for their writing, I often suggest they ask themselves these questions.
Personally, I have long been fascinated by the story of the logging industry in Algonquin Park. I love to read about the living and working conditions of the early loggers, the method they used to get the logs out of the forest in the wintertime and the larger-than-life lumber barons of the Ottawa Valley. Whenever I visit the park I am more interested in its history than in what it is today--the largest and most accessible park in Ontario.
Some of what I've learned became background for my latest book, Trouble at Turtle Narrows (Napoleon Publishing, 2008). See above photo of the front cover.
The town of Turtle Narrows, the fictional setting for the novel, is located in the Ottawa Valley. I used the same setting for Treasure at Turtle Lake (Napoleon, 2007). Algonquin Park is a good bike ride away for the youngsters living in the town.
My mythical town of Turtle Narrows is rich in history. There was at one time a sawmill at the Narrows, and a wealthy lumber baron built a mansion on the hill overlooking the river. From a belevedere on top of the house, he could watch each spring for the ice to break up and for his logs to float down from the north to the sawmill. In the novel, the main character discovers that the little room up on the rooftop makes an ideal location to keep an eye on any suspicious activity.