Today, my personal Story Behind the Story is INSPIRATION FALLING FROM THE SKY…
WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM? First, think about the root word of INSPIRATION – ‘INSPIRE.’ To breathe in. Every day we are breathing in the sights, sounds, touches and scents around us. Inspiration is right there—we just need to recognize these gifts falling from the sky.
INSPIRATION. IT IS THE VERY FIRST QUESTION I AM ALWAYS ASKED: Where does your inspiration come from - Who, or What, inspired you?
THE WHO is easy—As some of you already know, my son Sean began to ask to play the piano when he was 6. He studied classical music for 15 years, and we went from a ‘no piano home’ to a ‘grand piano home’ during that time. Listening to him practice, I fell in love with classical music. So when I was ready to write fiction, I wanted to write about what I love—Music.
Of course, my main character, Maggie O’Shea, had to be a classical pianist. In each of my books I have chosen Classical Music that parallels Maggie’s emotional journey. I feel that Music brings a soul and grace to my books. As Maggie says, “Music tells our stories.”
A few more ‘whos’… Three women I never met inspired me to write international suspense fiction—Helen MacInnes, Evelyn Anthony and Mary Stewart. Not teachers, but writers—queens of espionage novels and romantic suspense from 1941 through the 80’s. They taught me about page-turning suspense, character, sense of place, plot, courage and love—and they inspired me with their heroic women characters.
The women in my novels, Maggie O’Shea especially, are strong, intelligent, funny, accomplished and brave. Women who somehow find the courage to do the right thing no matter what. My character Maggie is inspired by Helen, Evelyn and Mary.
I’ve learned that the ‘Who’ inspires my Characters—sometimes by a single glimpse or moment…
A man doing a crossword puzzle on a train.
A woman in a museum, weeping as she gazes at a painting.
A friend with a 3-legged rescue golden retriever.
A boy all alone on a beach, a game of chess in a park.
Just seize that moment, ask What if? And a character will be born…
NOW, for the ‘WHAT’ that inspires me.
Music, of course. Art. Shakespeare, Ballet, Museums, Newspapers and Magazines, Books, the Nightly News. Conversations. Cities. Nature. Acts of Courage, and Kindness. Everything we breathe in. I’m guessing it’s the same for you.
Memories and Travel can be a huge inspiration. The right setting will add authenticity, and can set the tone, mood and atmosphere for a scene—sometimes even becoming a character. An evocative setting will paint a picture with words. For decades, I traveled internationally with my family, and I discovered that some places just speak to you. Even before I wrote my first book, I would visit a special place and think, this would make a spectacular scene for a book.
I have learned that, for me, it is the ‘What’ that inspires Setting and Plot.