People often ask where I come up with ideas for my books. My answer is always the same, EVERYWHERE. I get ideas from watching the news, reading newspapers, on television and from general life events. Have you ever read a story and thought, that’s interesting, I wonder what would happen if…. Or, have you ever watched a snippet on the news and thought, that could be an interesting book if only….Or, sat on a bus or a plane and watched people interact and noticed someone who was laughing or smiling as if they had some type of inner secret and imagined the events that led up to them getting where they are? No? Well, I do quite often.
I often watch a television show, Mysteries at the Museum, where they talk about various artifacts at museums around the world and provide the story behind them. In 2016 I took a trip to Bermuda with a friend. You can’t travel to Bermuda without thinking about the Bermuda Triangle and all of the mysterious plane and boat disappearances that have occurred in the region. Immediately, my mind came up with an idea for a sci/fi cozy mystery. What if the Bermuda Triangle is actually a portal that teleports people from one world to another? Suppose, the people in the alternate universe needed a private detective to solve a crime before their world fell into warfare and obliterated themselves. Someday, it might just find its way into a mystery series.That’s how it works for me. I see something interesting and then I start thinking, What If?
Sometimes the ideas are alternate realities or dreams. I recently had a dream (or maybe a nightmare) which left my heart racing. I woke up thinking this would make a great suspense novel. I keep a notebook beside my bed to jot down inspiration that only shows up in the middle of the night. Sometimes, those notes are a bit…hard to translate and make no sense by the light of day (no idea why my sleuth was hiding an artifact inside two frozen chickens, but…that’s what my notes say happened. I’m sure a detective walking around carrying two frozen chickens won’t be suspicious at all). Regardless, of the logic of the idea or dream, I write it down.
Similar to Samantha Washington, the protagonist in THE PLOT IS MURDER; my dream was to own my own mystery bookstore and to write cozy mysteries. In 2010 my job moved me back to southwestern Michigan and I had an opportunity to buy a building. My plan was to live upstairs and rent the lower level until I was financially able to retire and open a mystery bookstore. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for me (there’s a reason the first person murdered in my book was an unscrupulous realtor). Unlike Samantha Washington, I didn’t buy the building and get an opportunity to live out that dream. However, hindsight is twenty-twenty and today, I’m thankful things didn’t work out. If I’d succeeded, I might not have been inspired to write a book where a realtor is murdered and get to live out the other part of my the dream.