Among the questions most asked when I share with someone what it is that I do one is both a personal favorite and fun one to answer, and a bit enigmatic. (The question is as enigmatic as the answer, but I try to do my best.) “How do you come up with all your stories?”
Every author is different and have their own methods, and the paths they take to reach each of their stories can vary greatly from one to another. There isn’t one set group of ingredients to penning a novel, but there is a particular key component that I rely on for each and every book I write: Unexpected Inspiration.
As I sit down to start a new novel I set out to write from the heart, to tell a story that is honest. I write the book that I want to read. In order to do this I need that first shot of writer’s fuel: to be inspired by something that I know (I need inspiration from something true and something I’m emotionally invested in). Of equal importance, however, is the Unexpected Inspiration, and on this I rely throughout the entire writing and editing processes. Unexpected Inspiration is found in the most minuscule of places and things, and usually when I’m not even looking.
Take When Girlfriends Let Go for instance. The real-life and emotionally-tied inspiration, if you will, that sparked this novel and the entire series, is the very friendship I have with my own network of girlfriends from college. We’re an eclectic group, now living all over the globe (from Oklahoma to Germany), but our friendship prevails. I found it fascinating that such a varied group of women came together as friends and still remain close all these years later. From there one novel after another just spilled forth.
Of course, I needed more than a network of close girlfriends to inspire me, and with When Girlfriends Let Go I found Jackie’s story in some of the quirkiest of places. (Alighting on these inspiration pockets is one of the most fun parts of writing!)
Classical music, solo piano, jazz, and heck, elevator music at times, is what I usually tune into when I’m writing. I adore Chris Botti, and while doing a bit of a Pilates cool down (I admit, I’ll listen to this kind of music all day along) I was listening to his track “All Would Envy.” The image of a young trophy-like wife and an older man immediately got my mind running. Clock striking midnight…young girl wanting to party while older husband drifts off to sleep with some sleeping pills…fancy cocktails…fancier parties…fanciest of designer dresses… I quickly forgot all about what was to be a relaxing Pilates session. I jotted these ideas down, establishing Jackie’s character and rough story well before I even started the first novel in the When Girlfriends series.
Episodes of Mad Men with Roger Sterling got me thinking about Jackie’s husband Andrew. Walking around Lake Union in Seattle sparked more inspiration, as did retro furniture artfully displayed in a shop window, a Michael Kors magazine that arrived in the post, the aroma of a cup of hot black coffee one morning, the uplifting and comical spirit old episodes of Sex and the City can do for a girl, and several afternoons of writing, editing, and people-watching in a French patisserie next door.
Unexpected Inspiration, however tiny a kernel or large a hot air balloon it may be, is everywhere! So when I’m asked “how do you do it?” I really can’t help but think that the story is all around me, and I’m a conduit of sorts. I’ll piece together the inspiration I gather to tell the best story I can—the story I want to read and share, that is as honest, feels as real, and is as entertaining as I can possibly make it.
Then, I move on and do it all over again. And I plan to do this for many more years. It’s a passion, it’s fun, and connecting with readers and getting to share my work with them is a real thrill. And, whenever asked what I do, I can’t help but sneak in the response: “Only the best job in the world!”
Thank you for inviting me to guest post, Jayda, and for joining me on my Chick Lit Plus tour! Thank you for reading, lovely readers. I hope you’ve been having a great summer and enjoying some fantastic books!
Psst. If you want to meet the girls in my When Girlfriends series the first three novels are on a limited-time 99 cent sale at Amazon, B&N, iBookstore, and Kobo: When Girlfriends Collection, Books 1-3. Save a few bucks, have a few good reads, and celebrate female friendship!
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