All of my books begin with the seed of an idea. For everything I’ve written up to this point, the research was more casual. I would visit a place and imagine my characters there. But for the historical novel I’m currently working on, “I Will Find You”, the fact-finding mission has been much more serious and intense. I’ve been reading non-fiction accounts of Paris during World War II, both anecdotal and factual books, about exactly what happened to that magnificent city and its inhabitants.
For example, I didn’t know that there was a real effort to hide the priceless art from the pilaging Nazi soldiers and that many Parisians risked their lives for those paintings and sculptures. I visited Tel Aviv twice to spend time with the docent at the bullet museum there. Without giving away too much, those two places form the plot of my book. I’ve been doing the research for close to two years, and now as I write, I fill in the details from the copious notes I took along the way!
My all-time favorite book as a child was Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”. I can remember sitting up in my bed, late into the night, book propped up on my knees, flashlight in hand against the “lights out” policy set out by my parents after 9pm, having been transported to a place that was totally unknown and mysterious. Plus, it had the element of suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat.
Would Meg find her missing father? Would she be brave enough to challenge herself to move past her fear of failure if she did find him yet couldn’t bring him home? Would the dark planet swallow her whole, as it seemed to have done to her dad and could Meg trust these three supernatural creatures, Mrs Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which to help her find her way? I couldn’t stop turning the pages, and after that novel, I was hooked. I wanted to create worlds of my own, where my readers could find their reality melt away and get lost in a story for a while. Now, I get to do just that!
Readers always ask me if it’s difficult to write sex scenes.
Short answer: no.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge! When I write about younger characters, like Ruby and Cooper, I want the emotion between them to reflect their age.
The physicality may be a little more… let’s say “athletic” than for some of my older characters. My goal is to draw the reader in by being authentic to my story each and every time!
I am often asked where my novel ideas come from. I think that ideas are all around us, and if you allow yourself to be open to thoughts and impressions, novels spring from that point. It’s a combination of truth, something relatable to your reader, and creativity.
I’ve read that Diana Gabaldon came up for the concept for her uber-successful “Outlander” series after watching an episode of “Dr. Who” where a character time-travels.
EL James famously created “Fifty Shades of Grey” after writing fan fiction for “Twilight”. It’s said that Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind” as an ode to her ex-husband. For me, “The Lyric of Memory” was sparked by attending a Carole King/James Taylor concert. “Adjusting the Rear View” was written as a tribute to my closest friends.
My new work, “The Gypsy Moth Chronicles” was born in Cape Cod while sitting on the magnificent beach there. I have an entire file cabinet full of ideas… let your mind wander a bit and see if you don’t have a novel in you as well!
For me, a good story is comprised of three things: a really interesting conflict,
a flawed protagonist and a satisfying ending. I really want to go on a journey with the writer. I don’t want to be able to guess what’s going to happen next in the plot, I want the story to flow in a plausible, connected way. I want a main character that I can relate to, one that is far from perfect, someone who is trying to make sense of the world the writer has created. And I want the ending to work within the parameters of the narrative. I, for one, don’t need a happy conclusion, but I want to have the satisfaction of knowing that the right thing has happened for the people I’ve now followed for a few hundred pages. I hope I deliver on that promise to my own readers, and I would expect nothing less from the writers I admire.