Today, MSW has a special giveaway sponsored by the Investigation Discovery Channel. There’s a new show debuting tonight, Hardcover Mysteries, which explores the real-life stories that inspired popular mystery authors. One of today’s commenters will receive a signed copy of a David Baldacci book.
Where do you get your ideas? or Where did you get the idea for this story?
The above are pretty much requisite queries for authors, yet I rarely have an answer. I’m awed by the authors who have detailed and fascinating tales for where/when/how a storyline first came to them. I know my ideas are sparked by something, yet I lose the genesis in the evolution. The seed is devoured by the sprout. (And, frankly, I suffer from CRS…)
Sometimes I create an idea out of a goal. I may decide I want to try my hand in a particular genre, or break up a string of plot-driven novels with a character-driven romance. I’ll sit down and deliberately think up a story that will fit my requirements. To me, the genesis of the story was simply my obstinate determination to build something within a frame I established in advance. But I don’t think that’s what readers expect to hear when they ask what prompted me to write a particular book. It’s analytical instead of inspired.
I do have some stories that are “books of the heart”–stories that demanded to be written through no impetus on my part. You would think I might be able to remember the spark that ignited those, but I rarely do. For the most part, the genesis of a story just doesn’t seem to make it into my mental vault.
I do have a documented spark to share in this post, however. I remember it because it happened tonight. I was inspired by watching The Big C. I’ve been a fan of Laura Linney’s for a long time. (I still never miss a showing of Congo on TV. Anyone else dig that movie?) Linney is brilliant, as always, and the part she’s playing is a poignant one–her character is a woman whose diagnosis of terminal cancer enables her to live the rest of her life balls-to-the-wall. There’s a fierce defiance to Linney’s portrayal that really strikes me.
I want to write a book with a heroine like that, a woman with nothing to lose and a lifetime to live in a matter of months, but the idea will have to germinate for a while (and I have other stuff in the queue before I can really focus on it…) By the time I get to writing the draft, I might have forgotten it was Linney’s performance that inspired me. But you’ll know. You can remind me.
So, on this fine Monday, let’s chat about inspiration, reality-based fiction, or anything else that strikes your fancy!
“Investigation Discovery’s HARDCOVER MYSTERIES features America’s best-selling mystery authors who reveal the true crime stories which inspired their page-turning thrillers. From David Baldacci to Kathy Reichs, Sandra Brown to Harlan Coben, this series explores the real life mysteries that even these authors think are stranger than fiction. HARDCOVER MYSTERIES premieres Monday, October 11 at 9 PM ET on Investigation Discovery, America’s leading investigation network.”