One of the hardest questions for a writer to answer comes the most often: Where do you get your ideas? It’s hard because usually I don’t have the faintest inkling where the initial thought originated. It’s probably been simmering in the back of my mind for eons before it pushes its way into a story.
My June release from HQN, DANGER IN PLAIN SIGHT, an Amish romantic suspense, is one of the few books I’ve written knowing exactly where at least part of the idea originated. So the next time someone asks, I’ll actually have an answer! Here’s how it went:
Many of my books revolve around the Amish and other Plain people in our part of rural Pennsylvania. One summer morning my husband and I had an opportunity to take a buggy ride along the back roads of a nearby county with an Amish driver, so of course we were quick to take advantage of that fact. As Amos and my husband chatted about their similar experiences growing up on farms, I soaked in the beauty of the surroundings, which seemed so different when seen from the slow pace of the buggy. The pastures, hay fields, and corn fields created a patchwork that reminded me of an Amish quilt.
Only one thing interrupted the pastoral scene—a raw new building along a country lane, its sharp angles and brash colors an annoying clash with the image I had been so happily creating in my mind.
“What is that?” I asked, pointing.
Our driver frowned in the direction of the intrusion. “A new motel, as if we didn’t have enough already. On prime farmland, too.” He shook his head. “Not supposed to be able to get permission to do that without hearing from the public, ain’t so? But all of a sudden that building was going up, with all the permits already granted. I’m guessing the owner just knew the right person.”
I commiserated, but I probably sounded a bit distracted, because his words had already set a plot twist dancing in my mind—one that grew into a sub-plot for DANGER IN PLAIN SIGHT. More interesting to me, though, was the train of thought it started about what some might call “the old-boy network.” Even in small communities like the one in my story, sometimes the best of people may trade favors, a realization that rocks the world of my straight-arrow, honor-bound hero and became the moral premise of the book.
Ideas are everywhere, it seems. The tricky part of writing is recognizing them!