Whenever I lack inspiration for ideas or characters, I find that reading a good book can be an imagination caffeination (see, I never would have thought of that word before). It isn't that my creative energy flows directly from what I read, but rather that the book sparks certain imaginative synapses (see, there again). Recently, I have been reading Stephen King's 11/22/63. The story is engrossing--as opposed to plain grossing, as is usual for King--but it isn't the story that has inspired me. It is King's art and craft.
King knows his stuff. No one can deny that he can spin a tale, but he also has an incredible talent for language, for the stuff of which stories are made: character, dialogue, setting and conflict. King isn't the only writer with a full writer's toolbox. Whenever I read books written with full flavor and interesting characters, with language that jumps from the page, I just find my mind turning on its own.
It is times like these that I need to be in front of a keyboard. I must ride the wave, and take advantage of the creative energies that are generated from practicing good reading. What books, authors or reading do you find spark your creative mind?