One of the most common questions asked of a writer, and one almost guaranteed to
trigger that deer in the headlights look, is where she gets her ideas from. Some
authors can give specific answers to that question. “I was watching a disaster
movie and thought, what if those two were trapped, thinking they’d die and had
sex without ever knowing each other’s names and she got pregnant.” Others use
humor to deflect. “I find them on the clearance rack at the department store”.
I fall into that group of authors who draw a blank and wish there was an easy
answer. I don’t want to say I don’t know because I like to pretend I have a
little control over what’s going on my head, at least. But I really don’t.
Sometimes a snippet of dialogue will pop in my head. Or an opening scene. Maybe
the character. There’s neither rhyme nor reason and all I can do is keep hoping
if there’s a Story Idea Fairy, that she doesn’t stop coming around.
But with NO PLACE TO
HIDE, I had a head start. Jack Donovan and Isabelle Arceneau were introduced
in the third book in the series, NO SURRENDER, so I knew who
the characters for the fourth book would be. I knew their backstory.
The problem was their now story. I needed a plot for Jack and Isabelle’s romance
to play out in, but the Story Idea Fairy was apparently on vacation. I got
wrapped up in writing my Kowalski series of contemporary romances, but the
fourth Devlin Group book was always turning over in the back of my
mind, wanting to be told. Readers asked for it. I wanted to write it. But every
idea I brainstormed ended up in the trash.
Then one night, my husband and older son were talking about guns. My son is a
lover of all things military history and he was talking about an old Russian
revolver that, thanks to its sealed firing system, was one of the few revolvers
in history that could take a sound suppressor (silencer). The Nagant M1895 was
very distinctive and was used by the Imperial Russian Army, the Bolshevik secret
police and Viet Cong assassins, among others.
And, just like that, a villain came alive in my head. For reasons I won’t spoil,
he’s a killer for hire who most believe is nothing but an urban legend. He’s an
assassin with a perfect record and a Nagant M1895, and he wants Isabelle
Arceneau dead. Because she’s no dummy, the first person Isabelle calls after the
police is Jack Donovan, bringing him back into her life. And, boom, I had a book.
So NO PLACE TO HIDE came
from eavesdropping on a conversation between my husband and my son. It was a
random piece of information that captured my imagination and gave me those last
edge pieces I needed before I could start filling in the rest of the puzzle.
Eavesdropping is generally considered a social no-no, but it can be a vital
skill for an author because sometimes it’s where the ideas come from. I’d love
to hear about any juicy tidbits you’ve overheard while eavesdropping (minus any
identifying details, of course)!
1 comment posted.