Where do writers find inspiration? I think many of us find inspiration from life. Certain events, images, or music stick in our minds and won’t let go. When that happens, writers have the germ of a story. We can create characters and throw trying situations at them; we have the power to give life or take it. We’re omnipotent and we love it.
But inspiration sometimes strikes at inopportune times. More often than not, mine strike at bedtime. When that happens, I know I have to jot my thoughts down before they vanish. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself I’d remember it in the morning. Of course, when morning comes, it’s gone, dissolved into the ether of my brain.
My first book, Serendipity House, was conceived on a ride through the mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania, near where I lived at the time. Some of the resorts, though magnificent in their day, had become seedy and rundown over the years. Since my husband and I owned a small, sub-contracting firm and had done rehabs, I imagined someone giving new life to one of these grand, old dames. Although restoring a dilapidated inn to its former glory is rewarding in itself, it gives my characters’ static lives purpose. It also gives them friends they treasure, a way of life that nurtures them, and a special someone who holds the same things dear.
Where Dreams are Born came about after reading a tender love story about a disenfranchised couple joining forces out of necessity and ultimately finding happiness together. It touched me where I live, and I wanted to leave my readers with the same feeling. In my version, a young woman who lost her parents in a tragic murder-suicide as a child meets a man raised in the foster care system who’s also suffered loss. Now, all they want is a stable home life for their children. Of course, I give them much more than that, but not before piling on additional woes.
An old family picture from 1877 brought Rubies and Other Gems - the Novel to life. Seeing my ancestors’ faces and imagining their simple lives was a lot like going back in time, something we’ve all wished we could do when our world seems overwhelming. The character in this book gets the chance to do that, albeit with disastrous results. She also discovers her family is more close-knit than she thought and the problems that once seemed insurmountable have been resolved without her intervention.
A comment from my daughter about a boy in her class being reunited with his birth family planted the seed for Tomorrow Blossoms. My writer’s mind began playing the “what ifs”. What if his birth mother had kept a secret these many years? What if her husband was not her son’s father? Even more interesting, what if the man who raised her son was actually the boy who rejected her as a pregnant teen?
So Wonderful as Want, released a few weeks ago, was born after I’d relocated to Southwest Florida and read a newspaper article about the damage done to the environment by politicians in the early part of the last century. I imagined a young man who loves the land and despises the damage wrought by their misguided attempts to straighten the river for commercial reasons. I also imagined a country girl who dreams of leaving her idyllic but boring river hamlet to marry a gentleman and live the grand life in town. When her chance finally arrives, she must choose between the conscientious man who’s been there through every joy, every sorrow in her life, or the ambitious man who can make her childhood dream come true.
Midnight and Holding is a random collection of short women’s fiction. While only one story subsequently grew into a full-fledged novel, all the stories deal with the complexities inherent in the modern woman’s life. Gathered over several years, they’re a mix of humor, pathos, and serious observations.
So, be prepared with paper and pencil at all times. You never know where or when inspiration will strike.
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