The question every writer dreads - and gets asked most - where do you get your ideas. As if there's a secret store in the back of the mall, and we're just not sharing the location with the rest of the world! Honest answer: um, I think about it. Okay, that's probably a little too snarky to use on a talk show, so let me explain.
Do ideas literally pop into my head? Sometimes...but not exactly. A situation or a location presents itself, and I think wouldn't it be great to do a book about that. But that in no way is enough to fill pages. For example, here is how my first book Carolina Heat came about:
I was on vacation with my husband in Charleston, walking down a cobblestone street lined with magnolias and oozing history. We stopped to look at listing headstones at a church. All of a sudden it hit me what a great setting the city would be for a novel. At the time I was on a romantic suspense kick, so I decided to write one (as with most things, the idea was far simpler than the actualization). Was it an actual plot? Heck, no! Given the rich history of the area, I knew it had to tie in to the Civil War in some fashion. But that was the idea that popped into my head. Nothing more. The actual plot of the book took considerable more time and effort to bring to fruition.
Ever since then, every time I go someplace on vacation, I’m struck by inspiration for a new book. I think soaking up the different atmosphere just kicks my brain into overdrive. But all I come up with are possibilities. A general gee this is a great setting feel. Then I have to put my nose to the grindstone and figure out what the heck will happen there. It is a constant battle of rubbing the brain cells together while thinking what if?
As I drove to Target on Saturday, I deliberately let my mind wander. Thought about how paranormals are huge, and wondered what I could do to jump into that genre. Then I drove past the cemetery pictured above. You can't spit without hitting a church or historic cememtery in Maryland. Just like that, I pictured a woman being attacked by something paranormal amongst the tall headstones. I knew why she was there. I knew why the hero was amazingly on the spot to save her. Five minutes later, I've got a brand new book percolating. Sometimes, that is all it takes.