A few people have asked me recently where I get my ideas for my books from. The answer, in a word, is everywhere. Ideas are all around us - sometimes I don't have any for a while and then a whole load come at once, but the one thing about writing that I never worry about is that I will run out of ideas. That will never happen.
The problematic part is taking those ideas and working them up into a feasible plot line that can carry a full-length novel and that will have enough in it to satisfy the readers - and, much harder, the publishers! For it seems to me, quite often, that readers will have a go at pretty much anything and take it as they find it, whereas publishers have a zillion ideas about what readers will or will not like, what readers are or are not looking for, many of which seem to have come out of their own heads rather than the general public's.
It's hard to write about ideas without giving away spoilers, so don't read on if you haven't read GARDEN OF STARS yet. But the genesis of that story was a programme I heard on the radio about women in the 50s, 60s and 70s who had had stillbirths, or babies who died very soon after birth, and who had never been told where their babies were buried. Indeed, even more ghastly, some found out that the bodies had been incinerated, which seems unbelievable. One woman on the programme had finally, after many, many years of silent grieving, told her vicar what had happened, and he had taken it upon himself to find the burial place of his parishioner's baby. It turned out to be an unmarked grave somewhere near the hospital where the baby had been born and the woman was so grateful to finally be able to visit her child. This story deeply touched me and from it came the character of Ines, who silently yearned for her baby daughter all her life until finally Sarah was able to find her.
One of the common themes of the women who spoke on the radio programme was that they felt that they were not allowed their grief, that they were expected to just forget about their loss and get on with their lives. Many spoke of glibly being told to 'have another one', or of partners and families who, trying to be well-meaning, shut down any discussion of the baby, thinking it too distressing. These themes became part of Ines's story in GARDEN OF STARS. Real life is, so often, the most fertile hunting ground for stories that need to be told and that readers love to engross themselves in.
The psychological thriller that my agent will be submitting to publishers in a few weeks has a different genesis. It is a compelling tale of two women who are both on a mission and end up fighting for survival. Set in beautiful Montenegro, the gorgeous surroundings contrast with the evil that lurks beneath. The idea for this was a combination of uncovering a little-known medical condition that immediately presented itself as ideal to weave a story around, plus events that were prominent in the news, now and then. Watch this space for more details over the next few months.
Book 2 for CarinaUK, now being renamed and rebranded as HQ, is based on a true story that I read in the news many, many years ago and never forgot - a tale of jealousy, passion, poison and love triangles. Due out in July 2017, it's going to be a good one!
And I've just this minute read a story about an intriguing mystery in the Camden New Journal that is already starting to form and develop in my mind.... Ideas really are everywhere - it's just the time to do anything about them that's lacking!