by Donna MacMeans
Inevitably, at some point in a conversation with a wide-eyed reader, the question will arise "Where do you get your ideas?"
And I struggle for an answer because the process never seems to be the same. I just have to trust that the inspiration for a new story will be there when I need it. (I PRAY that the inspiration will be there when I need it).
Stephen King suggests that story are ideas are buried in the ground just waiting for the author to unearth them. Jennifer Crusie credits the "girls in the basement" for sending up ideas when you need them - you just have to listen. A workshop last week in Dallas told authors to look to music and movie titles for inspiration. So I'm wondering - where do you find inspiration for a novel?
The Education for Mrs. Brimley was inspired a few years ago by Lori Foster's contest. She encouraged entrants to submit a sexy scene in either a contemporary or historical setting. The weekly winner's entry would go to an editor. Several novellas were purchased through that contest. My idea for a strip tease was ripe with sexual tension, but the scenario was hardly unique in a contemporary venue. So I decided to place it in a Victorian setting as those ladies wore enough clothes to make a striptease a weeklong event. Now I needed motivation for my characters, both hero and heroine. As I thought about it, an idea started to form that begged to be written. I never entered Lori's contest because the desire to work on my Victorian striptease took over.
My next book, The Trouble with Moonlight, was inspired by the recent preponderance of TV shows and heroines with supernatural powers. That, coupled with the story of the headless horseman, led to my fun story of an invisible (Victorian) heroine.
My current work in process was inspired in part by the historical homes in Newport, Rhode Island. Discovering the charm gates in New Orleans brought about a partially written time-travel that still sits on my computer. A talk show featuring a cardiologist specializing in heart transplants inspired an earlier romantic suspense.
TV shows, vacation spots, movies, and contests...it sure would be nice if the process was consistent so I'd know where to turn when a story idea is needed. Especially as deadlines loom.
Share the source of your inspiration, or the process you use to discover your story and I'll reward the best suggestion with a bandit mask and a Jane Austen action figure.