Where do you get your ideas?
One of the most frequent questions authors get from readers is, “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer: Everywhere. And I’m not kidding. I’ve gotten ideas for stories or characters from watching TV, seeing an ad in a magazine, overhearing a snippet of conversation, playing the “what if?” game, and from my own experiences. One idea literally came to me out of nowhere. I had to pull over on the side of a highway in Illinois to write it down before I forgot it. Some of these ideas turn out to be enough to create an entire book, but others don’t.
To illustrate how ideas turn into books, I thought I’d talk about the three books that are included in my romantic suspense box set Love in Peril, which happens to currently be on sale for only 99 cents for a limited time. You can find the buy links to various retailers on the Love in Peril page here. This collection contains my Golden Heart Award-winning book Dangerous Kisses, the Golden Heart finalist Firefly Run and the Texas-set Hill Country Hearts.
Dangerous Kisses — Since I currently live in Nashville, I thought it would be fun to set a book here. After some investigation, I found out that Nashville has what is called a Murder Squad. So I contacted them and not only interviewed one of the officers but did a ride-along one night. It was an interesting and, honestly, a sad experience as we rode through some of the rougher neighborhoods. But I came away with lots of good background information, then let my imagination come up with a twist on a serial killer story that ties into the title.
Firefly Run — The impetus for this story was a single thought: How sad would it be if a woman lost her new husband on her wedding day? From there, I decided the husband would be killed because of his job as a cop and the heroine would help identify the killer, thus ensuring he’s sent away to prison. But what if that killer got out? He’d want revenge, no matter if the person who helped put him away had moved far away from the scene of the crime. I set this book in the Great Smoky Mountains and modeled the town somewhat on the actual town of Townsend, which is one of the gateway communities to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was able to use the lush beauty of the area, mountains covered in trees and dense foliage, as both a balm for Shelly’s broken heart and later as something ominous in that it could be hiding the man who is out to kill her. And adding to the conflict and turmoil is the fact that her husband’s partner has come to Tennessee to protect her, and they are both starting to have very not-just-friends feelings toward each other.
Hill Country Hearts — The initial spark for this story started with a visit to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas. Texas Rangers are iconic in American law enforcement, but when you walk through the museum and see the pictures of the Rangers, they are overwhelmingly male. So I wanted to write a story where the heroine was a Texas Ranger. Next I asked myself what would have driven this woman to go into law enforcement and move up the ranks to this coveted position? I came up with the fact that she witnessed her best friend being kidnapped as a child. Her friend was never found, but Gwen hasn’t given up on finding either her friend or answers about what happened to her. So when Gwen is called in to help a local sheriff’s department find another missing girl, she devotes her all to the case. What she doesn’t expect to find is that she’s attracted to local Sheriff Cade Duvall.
Like most writers, I get new ideas all the time, more than I have time to write. But it’s great that I’ll likely never run out of material for new stories.