October Theme: Inspiration (by Tyler Whitesides)

Probably the number one question I get asked is this: "Where do you get your ideas?" or (the same question reworded) "Where did you get your inspiration for your book?" Luckily, I have a very straightforward and easy answer for how I got the inspiration to write JANITORS.

As a full time music student at Utah State University, I needed a flexible, part-time job. Just something to give me enough money to take my wife (then girlfriend) on a date from time to time. I decided to apply at a local middle school as a part-time janitor. I landed the job and spent the next year and a half taking out the trash and sweeping the floors.

I would often find myself at the middle school late into the night. Few places can be more inspiring than a dark school hallway, when the exit signs cast an eerie green glow over the doorways, and the classrooms are steeped in shadow...

Cleaning that school gave me a few hours of daily uninterrupted brainstorming. The time was far more valuable to me than the minimum wage I was earning. As I cleaned, I thought of ways to make a janitor's job more exciting. It wasn't long before I had a notebook full of ideas and a story that was begging to be told.

I took inspiration from my everyday life experiences. With a little magical twist, even a janitor's job can look heroic and exciting. I knew I'd hit the nail on the head when my Kirkus review said that my book "spins plenty of action [and] authentic janitorial detail... around an audience pleasing premise."


  1. Man, those pictures take me back! Personally, I'm just grateful my college and high school-aged janitorial work is solidly in the past, but I love your story of inspiration!

  2. Great story, Tyler! Isn't it great how inspiration can come from the most (seemingly) uninspiring situations?


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