Where authors get their ideas is a common question asked at book events. There are numerous articles that tell you to write what you know. Are you a doctor? Lawyer? Dance instructor? Personally, I don’t find that works for me because what I do isn’t all that exciting. Or else it’s classified. People love stories written around hobbies, such as miniatures, cooking, and quilting. I’ve worked with stained glass for years, but have yet to figure out how to turn that idea into a mystery. Hmmm . . . I wonder . . .
If you’re a traveler, exciting possibilities are endless. I always know the location before I know who did what or why. It’s the framework for my stories. I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard several times and set my first (as yet unpublished) book on the island, and I’ve got an idea for a story about when my daughter lived and worked in Japan. I love international intrigue novels (Daniel Silva and James Rollins come to mind), stories that take me around the world where I’ve never been and most likely will never get to. A notebook and camera are valuable tools when you travel.
Drawing from one’s own experience can be fodder for any genre. I grew up just off the Ohio State campus where my mother rented rooms to male students. I refused to date any of them because of how awkward that would be. It’s amusing to think back on it now, but at the time it was just plain embarrassing for this very shy gal. Now I see the possibilities for a good mystery, perhaps turning those memories into a series.
I chose Shakespeare for my series after my daughter moved to Ashland, Oregon, home of the famous Ashland Shakespeare Festival. I thought it would be fun to bring Shakespeare to the Livermore, CA, wine country, add a couple of Shakespearean theaters and a vineyard, and see what kind of trouble my characters could get into. My protagonist is a cop and crime analyst from Columbus, Ohio, because that’s my hometown. Think of the unexpected most of us experience in a day and see if you can turn it into a story. I have a real situation I plan to write a short story about: Who has put our newspaper on the table on our porch every morning for the past couple of years?