Guest Post by Amy M. Reade
The Writer’s Mind
I’m often asked how writers come up with story ideas. And though I can’t answer for other writers, I can say with confidence that there are an infinite number of places to mine for story ideas. For writers of fiction, the seed of a story comes, of course, from the author’s imagination.
But something has to plant that seed, right?
Sometimes. A story idea can spring spontaneously from a writer’s imagination or subconscious, but often the story seed comes from an outside source.
Newspapers, internet news stories, and print magazines or ezines are a great place to look for ideas. You’re probably familiar with the phrase “truth can be stranger than fiction.” My favorite translation of that aphorism is “you just can’t make that stuff up.”
Consider the story of the dentist in Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey, whose wife died in a car accident in 2000. The husband and young daughter escaped the accident unharmed. The husband sued the Ford Motor Company for a faulty airbag, but Ford attorneys suggested that the dentist, who had recently increased the amount of his wife’s life insurance policy and who was having an affair, had killed her. The family of the deceased woman then sued the husband for wrongful death.
You can’t make this stuff up. And in fact, a novel by Lawrence Schiller did arise out of the story.
In my novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, there is an incident near the end of the story that I borrowed from the headlines. I’d love to share the details with you, but it would be the ultimate spoiler.
My third novel, which I am currently working on, is set in Hawaii. My original idea was to include a scene reminiscent of a recent event that took place in Hawaiian waters. You may have heard about it on Yahoo!- a woman was diving and her respirator was ripped from her mouth by another diver who was obviously threatening her for some reason. The details were murky. The more I researched the issue, the less it fit into my story, so I decided not to use it. But the fact remains: such an event makes great fodder for a writer.
Another place to find story ideas is the obituary column in the local news. It can be fascinating to read about the lives of some of the same people whom you may have seen but never really noticed around town- the woman who moved to the U.S. from Germany in 1939, the man who worked as an arson investigator, the ballet teacher who opened her own studio after her husband’s death. These are real people whose lives can provide great substance for novels.
And then there is the author’s own past. It’s amazing how many things can be turned into a good book; an author just has to realize it and make it happen. Take, for example, my recent “vacation.” From our hours-late arrival to the train journey cancelled mid-trip due to a death on the train track that left my family stranded in a foreign country, to my flat tire in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, to one of my children being trapped on a subway car while the rest of the family watched in horror from the platform, the trip was one misadventure after another.
And believe me, one of the most villainous people I had the misfortune of meeting will be the victim of an untimely death in an upcoming book. I look forward to writing it.
Just look around. Story ideas are everywhere. See something interesting? Overhear a snippet of conversation? You never know when your next idea will present itself.
Amy M. Reade
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Date of Publication: July 17, 2014
Number of pages: appr. 273
Formats available: ebook, print
Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead.
But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming.
Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…
Available at Amazon
SECRETS OF HALLSTEAD HOUSE excerpt on my blog today...http://t.co/T0qdPOa1qm
— Amy M. Reade (@readeandwrite) June 10, 2014
About the Author:
Amy M. Reade is a debut author of romantic suspense. A native of upstate New York, she grew up in the Thousand Islands region and was inspired by the natural beauty of that area to write her first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, a Bouvier des Flandres named Orly, and two rescued cats who refuse to answer to their names of Porthos and Athos.
Upon graduation from Cornell University and Indiana University School of Law, Amy practiced law in New York City, but soon discovered that her dream job was writing. In addition to volunteering with school, church, and community groups, Amy is currently working on her second novel, set in the area around Charleston, South Carolina.
Though Amy lives within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, she is partial to the blue waters of the Pacific and spends as much time as possible on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the setting of her as-yet-unwritten third novel.
Kensington website: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/29480