It’s a question I’ve been asked many times –‘Where do you get your ideas for your books?’
There’s no single answer to the question. Ideas or inspiration can come from many different sources.
I’ve always loved musical theatre, so basing a novel in the world of theatre was a no-brainer. An actress and her director were the starting point in my mind, then came the working out of the basic scenario. What if he was in love with someone else? Or maybe what if she thought he was in love with someone else? And what if that someone else was her twin sister? Of course, it wasn’t quite as simple as that, but that was the basic idea that led to ‘His Leading Lady’.
Using the English Lake District as a setting for a novel came naturally to me too. I thought about my favourite village, which happens to have a medieval courthouse. When I first started going to the area, the building had become very dilapidated, mainly due to lack of funding for its restoration. Anyone who has read my ‘Fragrance of Violets’ will know how much the villagers resented the hero, when he wrote an article in the local paper, arguing that funds would be better spent on improving tourist facilities than on an old gatehouse.
‘Reunion’ romances, where the couple meet again after breaking up, tend to be popular, and so I dug out an old story, written in the 1970’s and updated it. In the original story, the two main characters were teachers, but I decided up ‘upgrade’ the hero. I started rewriting it shortly after the volcanic ash cloud had cause air travel chaos, so the hero changed from being a geography teacher to a geologist, and specifically a volcanology expert. I didn’t actually realise how much research this would entail, but I really enjoyed learning more about volcanoes for ‘Changing the Future’.
My next release, 'Her Only Option' was inspired completely by my trip to Egypt two years ago, and particularly the Valley of the Kings near Luxor (which was all I’d imagined and more). The idea for the novel actually started when I was relaxing on the sundeck of a Nile cruise ship, and idly started to wonder if it was possible to vault over the rails on to the sundeck of the ship which was moored alongside ours. Not that I had any intention of trying it, but I could certainly imagine my hero doing so.
And finally, an idea for one of my current WIPs came when I was in Ireland last year. We went to a small cottage in the villager of Cong, where part of ‘The Quiet Man’ was filmed, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. The cottage was a museum with two rooms set up like the cottage in the film. We were asked to sign the guest book, and imagine our surprise when we saw the signature of someone who’d visited the cottage the day before we were there – look at the bottom line (it's legible if you peer at it!) ! The girl in the small shop confirmed that it really was Maureen O'Hara, and that she was a fairly frequent visitor as she had a home in Cork.
This sparked off an idea which I’ve incorporated in my story – although I’ve ‘moved’ the cottage from Ireland to the Lake District.
The answer to the question, therefore, is that inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere!