Recently I asked what my readers wanted to know. Today, having no ideas for a blog post, I thought I'd answer one of those questions.
Elizabeth Morgan asked this question...
I was wondering what inspires you to write or where you go to find your ideas.
Okay, this was a tough one to answer. The reason? I get my ideas from all walks of life! And some times they come quite randomly. I'll give you a few examples. My very first novel (not in print - sorry) was inspired by a dream. (From Fields to Castles is a prequel to By Love or By Sea) A character from my second novel, A Secret Desire, (also, not in print and a prequel to From Fields to Castles) was inspired while I was stopped at a red light. A guy was driving a beat up pick-up truck and turning in front of me. His situation had nothing to do with the book, but HE was the character!
She opened her eyes, looked over at her traveling companion and smiled. Edward Stonicelli was a fascinatingly wealthy man in his late twenties who now sat across from her with his head bobbing up and down as he slept, leaning on the side of his stagecoach. He appeared to be sleeping quite soundly, but she was unable to know for certain as his shoulder length hair concealed his handsome face, as though wisps of straw had been thrown haphazardly upon it.
(Please note that the guy in the truck was not sleeping at the time!)
My second book was inspired while writing the first. By Love or By Sea (my third novel, and first published novel) was inspired while writing the second one. I was in the shower one day thinking about my WIP when the idea came!
Another novel, The Tiger, Unleashed, was inspired one Sunday morning while I sat in church. (I actually tend to get many ideas while sitting in church. Strange, I know.) I'd been throwing around the idea of a love story between a high bred girl who's father ran a vineyard and she fell in love with one of the work hands. Then one Sunday, I got this inspiration.
Scanning the room further, she saw many young men directing their gaze at her. Her seat at the front of the room placed her on a pedestal for all to see. Though not a foreign or even a new concept to her, today a particular man engaged in the ritual of staring at her, unsettling her more than she cared to admit. Upon her previous surveillances of the congregation his presence had eluded her gaze. This time, however, her eyes captured a man standing at the back of the sanctuary leaning against a giant stone pillar. He was large in stature and clothed entirely in black. She almost thought him merely a shadow, for like a chameleon, he blended seamlessly into his surroundings. Yet, as Aspen looked more carefully she could make out his broad shoulders and his bronzed skin, no doubt from hours spent in the sun. His facial features were well chiseled, but soft. His thick arms folded casually across his massive chest and his hair shone black as ebony with unruly curls that hung below the collar of his shirt. His eyes were as dark as night and remained fixed on her, causing her heart to beat with an unnatural pulse.
Aspen instantly wondered why she had never seen this impressive looking man before. Her father made a point of being well acquainted with nearly everyone in the town yet this man’s familiarity seemed to evade her memory. He must be new, she thought, attempting to turn her attention again to Reverend Henion only to have it captured moments later by the ominously dark stranger. His appearance captivated her as he appeared to be discretely searching for someone or something. Her gaze lingered upon him and a smile found its way to her lips as he pushed a determined hand through his satin black locks of hair in a boyish manner. After mere seconds, he turned his dark eyes upon her once more. While his eyes registered her smile, his face remained stolid. Within seconds, his eyes turned to stone, full of hatred, as his gaze drifted from her to somewhere in the congregation. He nodded once to himself before turning his intense stare upon her for the last time.
(Yes, I am well aware that this is not a church related thought. I will probably be struck down for coming up with this in church. However, this is my favorite novel I've written. Probably because the man here, is my ultimate hero!)
Let's see, another book, A Cold Heart, I wanted to base at Fort Caspar, since I lived in Casper, Wyoming, I thought it fitting. So I went to the library and Fort Caspar and did tons of research! That book was fun but daunting because it was set in a historical location and I didn't want to stray too far from historic events.
“Gentlemen,” Major Campbell was saying. “You are all aware of the recent lack of activity from the Indians.” Several mumbles of assent were made before he continued. “My information tells me that a small group headed southwest two weeks ago. They reportedly kidnapped a poor girl near South Pass while she was away from camp collecting firewood. They raped her before scalping and killing her. Now, we can only assume that this is a threat. I would like a small group to hunt them out and see what they’re up to. Huntsman, take Nichols and Flemming with you and see where the savages are hiding.”
“There have also been reports of peace meetings down in Denver with Chief Black Kettle,” Campbell sneered. “While I believe they are going well, it’s possible the Indians are only putting on a good show. So I want to make absolute certain the savages around us are under control. The last thing we need is a disaster like what happened at Fort Larned in July.”
(I wanted to put a longer snippet in, but this post is long enough already. Maybe another time!)
My current book I'm working on, Sweet Ivy, was inspired in church again! I led the music, so I sat up front. A couple families came in late and sat in the front row. One family had more money than the other. The girl with more monetary means was forced to sit by the girl from another family. It was obvious they didn't care for one another. But the first girl, wrapped herself around the end of the pew in an effort to not touch the other girl at all, as though she had a plague. I was so upset by this that I fumed and went home and wrote SEVERAL pages of a new book!
“Back so soon?” Eleanora asked. “You really should have run a brush through your hair, Ivy. Perhaps you could try pinning it up.”
“I figured that since I was late, I didn’t have time for such luxuries, your ladyship. But if it offends you….”
“You’re right. You are very late, and poor Mrs. Simmons here has had to take over your load.” Eleanora gave an exaggerated sigh. “It would be unkind of you to take the time necessary to look presentable now.”
I think we all have encountered girls like that before! It was a fun book to write.
So, I get my ideas everywhere! I often get them while traveling with my husband, too. I'll look out the window and things will just come! (story ideas, descriptions of things, etc.) Needless to say, I keep small notebooks EVERYWHERE so when the ideas come, I can write them down!!!
Do I have good advice as to where to look for ideas? I'd say, keep your eyes open. Ideas are everywhere!
I hope that helps answer your question, Elizabeth!