Leslie Budewitz | Where do you get your ideas?
July 1, 2014
I hear tell that some authors don’t like that question. Not me! Maybe because I
have a great memory—but mostly because it’s fun to retrace, for myself and
readers, how disparate images and incidents came together, shifted, and took
shape on the page.
In CRIME RIB, second in
my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries (out July 1), the TV show Food
Preneurs comes to Jewel Bay, Montana to film the 35th Annual Summer Art and Food
Festival and its centerpiece, the annual steak grill-off. My protagonist, Erin
Murphy, manages a grocery specializing in local foods. After disaster struck the
village in DEATH AL
DENTE, Erin is content this time to stay on the sidelines, keeping her focus
on the Merc and scouting festival vendors for new products.
When the show’s producer is killed in a hit-and-run, Festival organizers beg her
to step in and help out, to give Jewel Bay a shot at national publicity. How can
a local girl say no? But when the host reveals a less than camera-ready side of
himself, and a contestant is attacked and killed, Erin worries that the town’s
reputation as a family-friendly, food-loving, vacation village will go up in
flames. And when the sheriff runs out of leads, it’s up to her to smoke out the
I knew one of the central conflicts in the story involved two men with a long
history—one the TV host, the other a local chef. I’d been reading chefs’ memoirs
and other kitchen lit, and recalled an incident in which a sous chef relied on a
line cook to pre-cook pasta for one of that night’s dishes. The line cook got
distracted and messed up; the sous didn’t check, and the dish went out with limp
noodles. Worse, the sous mistimed his dishes and they didn’t all come out at the
same time. Worse yet, the table was VIP—a national restaurant reviewer. The
chef-owner—subject of the book—was mortified, and livid.
At about the same time, a friend called on a man he’d known years earlier, who
was in a position to do him a career-boosting favor. Instead, the other man
chose to denigrate my friend’s work, destroying the opportunity and seriously
denting my friend’s self-esteem. Why, we wondered. A woman who’d known them in
the olden days opined that the other man perceived favoritism by a shared mentor
and still nursed a grudge.
What if, I thought, the incident I’d read about and my friend’s crushing
experience fit together? What if one of the men still blamed the other for the
loss of a dream? Where could that lead, and who else would be drawn into the
Other ideas evolve more simply. I was struggling to picture Tracy, Erin’s shop
assistant and a whiz at designing eye-catching displays. At a writing workshop,
a classmate bragged about her “cheap chic” wardrobe and instantly, I saw Tracy.
Instead of my classmates stylish blond bob, she wore her thick chestnut hair
long—the hair of a woman I’d worked with years ago.
Then one morning, my gaze landed on a pair of intricately beaded red-and-silver
earrings, a gift I love to look at but rarely wear. “Tracy!” I said, probably
out loud. Turns out she adores interesting earrings, and now I’m collecting
ideas, online and in real life. (Find a good one? Send me a picture, and if I
use it in a future book, you’ll be acknowledged.)
In CRIME RIB, we meet
Reg Robbins, a retired NFL player turned potter. Years ago, I heard about a
retired football player who settled in Wyoming and began working clay. I know
nothing else about the real man—didn’t need to, as my imagination assembled the
rest. Reg’s place sits near a real-life art studio I’ve visited, but his
occupies a red barn painted to reflect his Southern roots. Many of our friends
here in Montana are artists, and some of their work dots his walls and garden paths.
So when we meet someday, at a reading or a mystery convention, don’t hesitate to
share your stories with me. Don’t worry—I won’t expose your secrets! When I give
them to a character, they shift and change, taking on a new life. You won’t
recognize them, but I hope you’ll have fun trying.
Comment below for a chance to win your own copy of CRIME RIB!
30 comments posted.
Re: Leslie Budewitz | Where do you get your ideas?
Looks like a great cozy mystery . Can't wait to read it.
(Kiki Winn 8:53am July 1, 2014)
Sounds like a great book. And since I haven't read the first one yet, I now have two to add to my TBR list. Thanks for this chance to win.
(Nancy Reynolds 9:43am July 1, 2014)
I enjoy reading mystery books and solve who did it by the clues.
(Maria Pucko 10:48am July 1, 2014)
Haha! Crime Rib! Sounds awesome!
(Hannah Brown 12:50pm July 1, 2014)
I think writers must not only have a great imagination, but also great writing talents----I have the imagination, but can't write a lick---I sure glad there are people like you that can.
(Sue Farrell 3:45pm July 1, 2014)
I'm really interested in a Montana based cozy. Never read any from that
area before and think it would be a fascinating place for a foodie mystery!!
(Ronna Lord 3:51pm July 1, 2014)
Thanks to you all! I wish I could take credit for the
brilliant title -- the publisher came up with it, and I think
(Leslie Budewitz 4:11pm July 1, 2014)
Very clever book title since a neighboring suburb is having a RibFest this very weekend! Count me in to win!
(Susan Coster 6:25pm July 1, 2014)
I love hearing about how authors are inspired regarding
characters and situations for their stories.
(G. Bisbjerg 7:54pm July 1, 2014)
Can't wait to give it a read, sounds like a fun book. :)
(Leslie Davis 8:01pm July 1, 2014)
Sounds like a fun read
(Judy van Ryn 9:37pm July 1, 2014)
Enjoyed your blog, sounds like a great book.
(Sheila True 10:19pm July 1, 2014)
Thanks to you all for stopping by! It's a beautiful day out
here in Montana and I hope you can all visit soon -- in person
or on the page!
(Leslie Budewitz 11:07pm July 1, 2014)
Would love to win this book!
(Marie Messa 11:10pm July 1, 2014)
It looks like a good read. I like finding out how people get their ideas and it's good to know that there is some real life people who trigger ideas/characters. Anything that includes food or anything related to it sounds good to me. Thanks for the chance to win.
(Sally Hannoush 1:09am July 2, 2014)
Loving the title & story line.
(Mary Preston 6:52am July 2, 2014)
I love the cozy mysteries with recipes. Always adds to the
book and characters. Thanks for the giveaway.
(Leona Olson 7:52am July 2, 2014)
Wow, sounds like a great book to read. It seems that the
characters are great, and they will keep you questioning which
one did it, still the end. Can't wait to read it.
(Teresa Harrell 8:29am July 2, 2014)
Seems like a great book and makes me want to check for other books by this author.
(Brianna Herrera 10:35am July 2, 2014)
First of all, I wanted to say that I think the cover of your
book is absolutely adorable!! That alone makes you want to
pick up a copy of your book!! The story line sounds like
the perfect Summer read. When you add cooking to the mix,
it automatically screams cookout, even if your book doesn't
revolve around one, but the story is interesting
nonetheless. I'm looking forward to reading it, and seeing
if I can't come up with any ideas that I can send off to you
for future books. Congratulations on your book!!
(Peggy Roberson 10:44am July 2, 2014)
I am interested on how ideas come to people as well. Looks
like an interesting book. Always looking for a new to me
(Gayle Cochrane 11:21am July 2, 2014)
Thanks for all the wonderful comments! Peggy, there is
indeed a cookout -- for two hundred people! And another on a
smaller scale, with recipes you can make to recreate the
festivities yourself -- without that pesky murder....
Happy reading -- and happy eating!
(Leslie Budewitz 11:34am July 2, 2014)
I love cozies andf this one sounds really good!
(Vennie Martinisi 12:57pm July 2, 2014)
Sounds like a great book. Your a new author to me and can't
wait to read this my favorite genre.
(Denise Austin 2:34pm July 2, 2014)
Sounds like a great cozy! Added to my TBR list!
(Amanda Ray 3:19pm July 2, 2014)
Have you ever had "Writer's Block"? If so, how did you overcome it?
(Maureen Glynn 4:55pm July 2, 2014)
I cannot believe you actually addressed that age old question
of "Where do you get your ideas?" Only a writer can be in a
God awful situation and think, "I can use this!" At any rate,
I appreciated the glimpse into the artistic process!
(Marcia Berbeza 9:19pm July 2, 2014)
This sounds like a nice little mystery. I would enjoy it with a glass of tea.
(Cindy Olp 10:16pm July 2, 2014)
Cozy Mystery are the best to cuddle with a throw blanket and tea.
(Kai Wong 1:28am July 3, 2014)
Can't wait to read this one.
(Karen Hansen 5:56pm July 31, 2014)
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