The original espionage was inspired by a crazy lady I passed in the subway one day. She stood near a street musician, one whose music I really enjoy. He's a junky that plays a mean harmonica with a bean can shaker. He makes some great blues music. She was screaming, "SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Except she wasn't screaming at the musician. She had her back to him and was shouting at the escalator. I wanted to know what she was seeing. And wouldn't it be interesting if something was actually there?
Combine with that a separate experience where a less talented musician was there not actually playing at the time I passed. Someone threw money in her hat and she handed the person a folded piece of paper. Now, most likely, the paper was folded around drugs. But what if it wasn't? What if the musician was a CIA operative passing information to another operative? How cool would that be?
Mix those two together. What if the CIA isn't just your normal espionage spooks? What if it's a supernatural agency? Who can infiltrate better than a changling that can change his/her features? (Reminds me a little of Gail Carriger's work and some other urban fantasy I've touched on but can't remember at the moment. Lurker, ring a bell with you?) A small government program attempting to track the tidal wave of immigrants moving to America at the end of the 19th century (tracking Irish and similar "blights" on the country), discover supernatural beings living among us. The Cenosapian Identification Agency is formed to identify how pervasive the infestation is and to determine whether they're a biproduct of the Irish or something else entirely.
Fast forward a few decades when the government begins to fight the red menace and all of a sudden supernaturals are necessary to fight back communism. Stalin and Hitler both had their own cenosapian programs and if we give the reds the advantage, it'll spell the end of democracy for the world! Fast forward a few decades more and now the wall has fallen and post-War colonialism is winding to a close. Espionage isn't that useful with only one remaining super power. [Avoid all your overdone plots and think of something cool to go here.]
Now all you need is a main character. And that's today's idea, Serenity.
"My parents didn't name me Serenity because they were Buddhists or existentialists or anything like that. They were nerds. Big, cosplaying nerds, and they named me after a spaceship. Thanks mom. Thanks dad. Why couldn't you be hippies? Make love not war. Smoke weed. Wear hemp. If we had spent my childhood getting high and eating brownies rather than rolling for initiative, maybe I wouldn't be in this mess.
I rolled a three, by the way. Maybe that's the problem too."
(That last part might riff too close to GEEKOMANCY, but the point of a wind sprint isn't to show off a new idea, but to fastball pitch an idea against the wall and see what kind of Rorschach shapes come out of it.)
I'll puzzle around with this more after I'm done with my next draft of FAMILY JEWELS.