The Muses: Part 1

Whenever I tell people that I write fiction, they almost always ask, “Where do you get your ideas from?” Those little ideas that sprout into full-blown stories live in lots of places. Over the next five posts, I’ll show you where. Welcome to the deepest recesses of my mind (insert devious laugh here).

1. Location, location, location

Weird, interesting, beautiful places almost always inspire me to write. The setting of a book is right there in front of me, down to the last detail.

My novel The Dependants is set on a pumpkin farm. Although I don’t name it in the book, I based it on the very pumpkin farm that my husband and I take our kids to every fall. There was always something about that place that felt special for me, somehow important. So one year I came armed with my camera and took pictures of everything—from the farmhouse to the corn maze to the giant tree that had met its end with a lightning strike.

I went back to the area later that week and drove all around, thinking that if my characters lived on that farm, where else could they go? I found some pretty cool places that I would have never thought up on my own—a house that doubles as a lawn figurine factory, tons of propane suppliers with giant tanks out on their lawns, and a cute town complete with an ice cream parlor and the state’s oldest hotel. Every few miles I would pull over and jump out to take some photographs before the owner of the property came at me with a shotgun. I even worked up enough nerve to ask a restaurant hostess if I could snap some shots. She was nice enough to let me. I wrote two chapters that took place in that restaurant. My visit there was priceless.

All afternoon I clicked away, and by the time I drove home I had found settings for more than half of my book. Different places inspired different scenes that would have never come to mind if I hadn’t seen them for myself.

So the takeaway: It’s all about taking notice of places, imaging what might have happened there, what could happen there. Heck, you can make any place interesting. Well, maybe not a baseball card store. I’ve been to too many of those thanks to my husband. No, nothing could make that place interesting.

  1. Janet

    April 3rd, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I think your next novel should have a baseball card collecting character. Then all those hours spent inside a baseball card shop will be put to good use.

  2. Alex

    April 3rd, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Hey, baseball card stores are fascinating. I could spend hours looking at all of that cool memorabilia.

  3. Amy

    April 3rd, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Your next book should take place at the Naval Academy so you can come visit me for “research”!

  4. emily

    April 3rd, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    that last paragraph of your post = amazing. totally cracking up over here reading that.

    love catching a glimpse into the process for you. makes me want to read the book and then go on a book tour. 🙂

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