by Karen Robards
I’m always being asked where I get my ideas. A lot of times, I’ll get a snippet of dialogue, or a first line, or a picture in my head that appears out of nowhere, and that will be the spark that ignites a new book. With HUSH, the image that came to my mind was of this naked, streaming wet, terrified young woman running straight into the arms of a grim-faced, fully clothed, deadly federal agent who was racing to save her life. Not that the agent, Finn Bradley, wanted to save her life, especially. He wanted to do his job and get the hell out. But doing his job involved getting Riley Cowan (the woman) to tell him a secret that she refused to admit to even knowing. And despite all his hardened professionalism, he was still human, which meant that not noticing how beautiful the naked woman was was impossible. To make things worse, once he wrapped his coat around her, the fragrance of the scented soap she had been using clung to it, haunting him for days.
That mental image gave me the bare bones of the characters. It also gave me the seeds of a plot. Who was Riley running from, and why? What was the secret she was afraid to reveal? What would Finn do to worm it out of her? What would happen when (if) he did?
I had no idea what the answers were when I started. That first image, and the characters of Finn and Riley, sucked me into a story that revealed itself as I wrote. Not knowing what twists the action would take, or how Finn and Riley would resolve their mutual distrust/attraction, or how the book would end, made every day I spent writing HUSH exciting. Not to mention scary. It was like walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon without a net: a real white-knuckle experience.
Do I need to tell you that I loved it? At least, I do now that I’m safely on the other side. HUSH worked out just the way it was supposed to. One thing I’ve learned after all the books I’ve written is always, always trust the story. It’s there, in that first image, or bit of dialogue, or opening line, just waiting to be revealed.
I’m reminding myself of that now, as I’m caught in the toils of yet another story. This one was sparked by the mental image of a woman who finds herself staring into the face of the man she loves, only to discover that his eyes are brown when they should have been sky blue.
HUSH can be purchased in hardcover or eBook format