I dread this question, because the answer is a tricky one for me. Sometimes I know where an idea comes from, but many times I’m flummoxed. The kernel of an idea that set me on the road to writing a YA steampunk romance was a phrase that sounded in my head one afternoon out of nowhere: the fixer-upper boyfriend.
I’ve always been curious about just about everything, so I read widely (books, newspapers, magazines, online) and love to have new experiences. And the more I learn and experience, the more questions I have. Sometimes I explore the possible answers to certain types of questions through my writing. Usually, they are questions about identity. My core story seems to be, “You have to decide who you really are.”
A news story about a sweet, smart Iowa schoolgirl who hid her pregnancy and killed her newborn baby made me wonder: What happens when a very good girl does one very, very bad thing? How might that act change her at her core, or would it? That exploration became my first completed manuscript, a romantic suspense.
Best-selling romantic comedy author Jenny Crusie says her ideas come from ‘the girls in the basement’, meaning her subconscious mind. This is often true for me. In that magical, hazy period at the edge of consciousness or dreams, after I’ve hit the snooze button but the alarm hasn’t yet rung a second time, seemingly-random creative ideas materialize with amazing regularity—no doubt products of my subconscious. A blind wedding-singer heroine at a drug lord’s wedding accidentally compromises an undercover cop hero.
Sometimes I can guess where my ‘girls’ found parts of an idea. I knew a blind wedding singer years ago. Drug cartels are all over the news. I watched the movie Wedding Crashers, and the next thing I knew my girls in the basement sent up the idea.
The rebellious part of my personality (that is overshadowed most of the time by my rule-following tendencies) takes over when I hear all-or-nothing statements about writing. I like to stretch the boundaries. If someone tells me readers will reject a blind or mobility-impaired heroine unless her disability is central to the plot, it doesn’t ring true. The end result is that my stories include a number of differently-abled characters.
And then there are the dogs.
|ONE OF THE CAST|
I used to think that, although I enjoy many different kinds of pets, I am primarily a cat person. Now, I’m not so sure. Dogs figure in every one of my novels as secondary characters who are more than walk-ons. They play important roles in my stories.
I don’t know where they come from, but they sure are fun to write.
Where do your ideas come from?