Like most authors, I’m often asked how and where I get inspiration for the books I write. I like to think a lot of what I put into my books comes from personal experience. Not so much the steamy love scenes, or otherwise I’d probably still be married. Most often, my character’s personalities and story lines come from somewhere in my past. Usually, the more off beat the better.
The perfect example of using life experience resulted in the first book I ever sold. Many years ago, I worked for a large medical center in the very heart of a big city. One night on my way home I stopped at a red light. A man stepped off the curb and came to stand in front of my car. The neighborhood was dangerous, and I was terrified. I thought, if this man pulls a gun on me, I’m going to run him over right here in the street. No ifs, no ands, no buts! Instead of drawing a real weapon, he whipped open his coat and he was stark naked underneath. I began laughing, so hard in fact I think I insulted him. He got angry, closed his coat and stomped away. That ridiculous incident became the beginning of Courting Trouble, part of the Precious Gems line, from Kensington way back in 1996.
I remember telling that story at a writer’s retreat and one of the ‘younger’ participants bemoaned the fact that she must have led a sheltered life because nothing exciting ever happened to her. As a writer, you should never assume you’re too young to have had a book-worthy experience. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to use the stories handed down over generations as well.
When my mother passed away a few years ago, I was cleaning out her house and found a shoe box filled with what most people would consider junk. Not the writer in me … the writer saw every item for what it was: a story waiting to be written. From the ten-cent card of pearl cluster buttons to the book of ration stamps from WWII, everything screamed RESEARCH ME, PLOT ME, WRITE ABOUT ME! My creative mind just KNEW there was at least a half dozen stories in that one box of junk.
The experiences don’t have to be your own. The next time you’re out of fresh ideas, if you’re lucky enough to still have grandparents, call and ask them to recount one of the silliest, or most dramatic, events of their early lives. Chances are not only will you get a new story idea, but you will have also brightened their day and yours!
I also drew on a familiar experience for my upcoming, somewhat naughty, holiday novella, His Sexy Secret Santa. During my time at the medical center, I spent a good number of years in their legal department. The stories I could tell…
However, for this particular rom-com, I concentrated on how a professional legal office would celebrate the holiday and still maintain decorum. Take my word for it … it’s not easy!
If you’d like a sneak peek at the adorable cover, take a trip over to JigSaw Planet, and reconstruct it for yourself.
This is all for me today. For the writers out there, keep plotting and writing and searching for that new twist! And, for the reader, keep reading and remember to let the authors and publishers know what you want. Most have a blog of some sort and welcome your input.
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