Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? - 2

Swan Inn, Bilbury, Gloucestershire
Posted to Facebook by Regina Jeffers


To continue last week's themes - Travel.
Traveling certainly helps spawn ideas right and left—as well as filling in all those pesky details you can't see on Google Earth. I don't know how I would have managed all the Regency novels I've written without my travels through England, Wales, Scotland, and both Irelands. (Although the one night I spent in Belfast was proof that the "troubles" weren't over. I wouldn't even venture out of the hotel far enough to visit the intriguing-looking pub across the street. And as we were leaving town the next day, our guide informed us we'd just spent the night in the "most bombed" hotel in Northern Ireland! Believe me, I breathed a sigh of relief when we crossed the border. Seeing tall walls topped with barbed wire around elementary schools—as well as learning of the drive-by shooting of an innocent child in her bed the night I was there—was enough to make me understand why my father's family—Scottish emigrants to the U. S. after a brief sojourn in Northern Ireland were agnostics for a hundred-plus years.)

My two trips to Peru, followed by a good deal of online research about the Inca Trail, were used in my tale of Suspense, Orange Blossoms & Mayhem. Believe me, that book is authentic, even though I've never developed the readership for my Mystery/Suspense that my Regencies have. 

FYI, I have reason to believe I may have started the hiking craze for the Inca Trail. Yale anthropologist Mike Coe—the expert on our Yale tour— and I ended up at the top of Machu Picchu at the same time one afternoon, discovering we were at what was once the main entrance to the city—an arched gateway high above the ruins. Mike explained that the Incas traveled from city to city along the mountaintops, rather than along the Urubamba River far below (where the train now runs). After the arrival of the Spanish, the Incas "cut" the trail so the Spanish would not find the city, believed to have been a religious haven. Mike and I idly wondered if the trail could be restored, if people could once again hike all the way to Machu Picchu. A fascinating topic we brought up to the group at supper that night. And, lo & behold, the very next year, our tour guide led the first hiking tour along the Inca Trail. A hike that became a "must" for hikers everywhere—so much so, hikers had to get a permit and make reservations! 

Grace note:  The trail from Cuzco has not been restored. Modern hikers join the Inca Trail at neighboring Ollantaytambo, one of the way stations between the two ancient cities of Cuzco and Machu Picchu.)

So where else do ideas come from?

Movies, without a doubt. For example, the worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars have permeated our lives, changed our vocabularies, become the guideposts for the far away worlds we write about. 
Books. Of course, we get ideas from other people's books. From Jules Verne to Anne McCaffrey. From Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer. From a small "read" that only a few people found to blockbusters like the Harry Potter series.
Plays & Musicals. What would we do without Shakespeare? Or Rodgers & Hammerstein? The drama, love, tragedy, the glorious sounds—all have the power to inspire.
Music. Perhaps, oddly enough, because I have a degree in Music, I have seldom looked to music for inspiration. But my love of folk music and my study of the vocal classics have certainly come in handy in a number of my novels.
Newspapers & TV news.  Although newspaper readership is diminishing, this is still the best place to find those news tidbits that don't make it to TV—the minor headlines that spark your imagination and make you say, "What if . . ."
Pictures (like the one above) - paintings, photos, cartoons, etc., can easily inspire an idea. Just give them a chance.
People-Watching. Not everyone can be the handsome hero and beautiful heroine of your dreams. Every book needs a lot of support from those Secondary Characters, and there's a whole world of inspiration around you. Take you blinders off and see what's right there before you.

And . . . back to Sheer Imagination.

Sometimes it just comes pouring out—the setting, characters, plot & action bursting out of some misty cloud of pure imagination.  That's okay too. 
All of which leads us back to my Stock Answer:  Everywhere.

From inside your head to the world around you, Ideas are everywhere. Some are subtle; some so strong, they stand up and scream, "Use me, use me!" 

Just this week in Central Florida:  a 3-year-old boy from my own town of Longwood was found 1200 miles from home, curled up in a box on a stranger's front porch in Buffalo, NY. All he could say was: "Car. Fire." And sure enough, a car suspected of being his parents' was found totally burned out not far away (with bodies inside, ID pending). If that doesn't inspire a thousand questions and more than one book, I don't know what would. In a second story, a man in the second county west of here killed his wife and four children and drove their bodies around in his car for the last six weeks, before he was caught in a routine traffic stop in Georgia (when he immediately poured out a confession). Now there's a challenge for those who write about the darker mysteries of life! (And yes, both those stories are from this week's Central Florida news—admittedly top headlines, not obscure news from page 10.)

On a vastly smaller scale, I was thinking just today that if I'd broken my foot before writing The Abominable Major, I'm almost certain I would have had even greater empathy for a man with one leg! 

So keep your wits about you. I believe it was Shakespeare who said, "All the world's a stage." From tiny nothings to in-your-face headlines, from coping with a broken foot to the loss of a loved one, from listening to your favorite song to tearing up over the heart-warming tale newscasters save to close their broadcasts, from the child who comes hungry to school to the canned goods provided by local churches and food pantries to assuage that need, Ideas are all around us. We only have to put out our hand and grab the brass ring.

~ * ~

Blair's Mystery/Suspense Books

Shadowed Paradise
Paradise Burning
The Art of Evil
Orange Blossoms & Mayhem
Death by Marriage
Limbo Man
Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart
Florida Wild (late 2019)

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.

For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.  

Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.

Thanks for stopping by,


No comments:

Post a Comment