One question I love answering is; “Where do you get your story ideas from? And are you afraid you’ll run out of ideas?” I can’t help but answer, “I get my ideas from everywhere and everything!”
I don’t know about other writers, but for me . . . I have more ideas than I have time to write! I have a ‘story idea’ box that I toss my story ideas into. Right now it’s the size of a shoe box, and to be honest I think I need a bigger box. I’ve thought of having a separate box for suspense and a separate one for my Native ideas. Then again, maybe that’s getting just a bit too anal – okay … so that’s me. I do have my movies separated by genre’ and then alphabetized! (The family joke for sure!)
When I was doing research for a certain type of Native weapon, for Whispering Sun, I ran across the complete description of the Treaty of 1855. Yep… a literal gold-mine! It explained where Isaac Stevens was standing under a tree and how the tribes were sitting in respect to his position. OMG! I knew I had to use this in a book. Then I got to thinking … what if??? What if a Native woman (Leota) had dreams about what will happen if Chief Lame Bull were to sign this treaty? It would be the end of all ends to the lands of the Plains Indian. So her quest is to convince the Indians not to sign this white man treaty.
Again, doing research for another Native book, I ran across these two sentences; The white man didn’t like the bitter taste of the white berry from the red willow. The Natives used it in many foods because of the nutritious value of the berry. Hmmm … White Berry on the Red Willow…. Hmmm … what if ??? the white berry could symbolize my white heroine and the red willow would symbolize the red nation? What if the world was all but destroyed and the Native Americans have taken over the national parks where the buffalo are flourishing. What if the Natives go back to the old ways of their ancestors… as the Indian believes – ‘Life will go full-circle.’ Two sentences … and I had a book…. One of my favorites – I might add.
When Den and I were having trouble conceiving a child . . . we had that emotion and loss. We had our name on so many adoption lists. Then came the ‘what if’?? What if a couple finally get a child … a little girl … and she is ‘everything’. Their marriage is on the rocks – but they stay together for the child they’ve always wanted. What if the mother is reading a magazine and sees the ‘child abduction’ page – is it a picture of her daughter? What if the husband finds a cut-out side of a milk carton – is this his daughter? They can’t turn to each other … so they try to investigate on their own … which only throws them together. It happened in Kidnapped – one of my best sellers.
Then there was my friend; her husband decided he needed ‘space.’ This is real! He put her into a hotel across from the hospital for the last month of her pregnancy. He promised to take them both ‘home’ after the child was born. But when this piece of crap rancher found out he now had a daughter – not a son – he didn’t take them home. Really!!?? Yep. So I started writing Revenge, to take my friend’s mind off the misery. We worked a block from each other – so we met every morning on the corner so I could give her my ‘next pages.’ Talk about pressure! That was the fastest book I ever wrote!
My point – I can’t seem NOT to find inspiration for a book – no matter what I’m doing. If it’s not a story line – it’s a book title! Even a book title can send me off doing the what if?? What if??? I can’t stop – I can’t help myself. I find a story idea just about everywhere . . . and about everything! It’s part of me. Either I’m back in the 1800s or I’m imagining finding a dead body in the bottom of a ravine on my gold claim…. Or maybe I’m digging material – and I uncover a skeleton hand . . . clutched in the curled-up palm is a gold nugget the size of a golf ball. My mind just keeps on imagining . . . and my fingers keep hitting the keys! Actually – I rather like that! What if …after further investigation I actually found this hand in a Native burial ground. . . what if???
Of course the final questions is; “Are you afraid you’ll run out of ideas?” I rather doubt I really have to answer that…. Do I?