The second question people always ask you after you tell them you are an author (the first being: do you have any books that you’ve sold) is always: where do you get your ideas. Most of the time, I haven’t the vaguest clue where the ideas come from, they sort of sneak up on me. Right now I am starting work on a new, three book series that will spin off from the Bachelor Chronicles. I got the idea for the series while I was
screwing around, avoiding writing, putting together a family tree for Thatcher, the duke in Love Letters from a Duke. I needed to see how poor Thatcher had managed, through no fault of his own, to go from being the family black sheep at the bottom rung of the inheritance ladder to the Duke of Hollindrake. Okay, it wasn’t entirely essential work, but as the family tree came together I saw the three stories sort of come to life before my eyes.
Oh, not the whole story. How I wish. Because I have had that happen. In the cases of Something About Emmaline, Stealing the Bride and His Mistress by Morning, the entire book plot sort of plopped into my lap out of the blue, like a big pile of seagull surprise on the windshield. Despite my poor metaphor comparing them to bird poo, they are actually some of my favorite books that I’ve written, just because the ideas came so easily. I wish this was so in the case of the next three Bachelor Chronicles books, but all I’ve got are the heroines, I think I have the heroes, and I’m working on the plots. And praying for some large idea leaving birds to fly overhead. I’d probably be doing better if I hadn’t read my Sunday paper last week. Because I got hit hard by the story bird and it won’t go away.
What always surprises me is when I get ideas for stories that I will probably never write. It is like the story fairy dropped Dumbo into my tent. Like the one that hit me when I saw this picture of Clay McDermott from the K Diamond K Guest Ranch in Republic, Washington on the front page of the travel section. (A Diamond ranch in the rough, story and pictures by Brian J. Cantwell, Seattle Times) This guy really is enough to make any girl look west. Or in my case, look east, since Republic is east of Seattle.
Still, let me get one point very clear: I probably will never write a western, not even a real fan of westerns, except when they have Jimmy Stewart as the hero and the occasional John Wayne. I don’t want to see some post on a forum that I’ve gone western. I haven’t. I can’t.
But that hat, and those eyes, and something about the coat and his stance just get me. I see this cowboy kneeling beside a fire looking across the flames at a woman he’s found, she’s hurt, got amnesia, needs his help. Or see him coming into his lonely cabin after a long month on the trail to find a stranger, a woman in his cabin, cooking. One picture and I can’t shake the darn stories out of my head. I really need to be in the Regency right now. Not seeing visions of lonely vistas and wide open spaces and a heroine in a calico dress. But that’s what this story has done to me. I mean, come on, this guy’s name is Clay McDermott?! How much more like a romance hero could you get??? So please, someone be inspired by Clay as I was, take this story and write it, so I can get back to 1814 and my widows on Brook Street.