Thursday, June 5, 2014

Finding My Inspiration, part 1



Every time I read a book with a great theme I think wow, why didn't I come up with that? After all, there are roughly forty billion novel ideas floating around in the air just above our heads, right? Well, I’ve written almost twenty books in various genres and have plucked those themes from said air. The tricky part once I grabbed a theme was getting my muse to cooperate. Let me give you an example of how I get my inspiration.

For my first young adult novel, Edge of Escape, the idea came to me as I sat in the passenger seat staring at a green line of trees. My husband and I were heading home from a weekend in the quiet woods of northern Michigan, aiming the car toward the traffic-crammed streets of suburban Detroit where we both taught in a large high school. The idea struck: What if a misunderstood teen set his sights on a popular girl and took her to the woods we just left? Well, that wasn’t quite earth shattering enough. Here was where the inspiration fairy needed to do her thing.

And poof! I thought of a particular student I had: tall, dark, handsome, but with some emotional problems. He didn’t interact with the other kids; he ate lunch with the special needs kids; and his mother had arranged for individualized treatment from his teachers, including me. She was a bully and I didn't believe that her son needed all the pampering or the individualized quizzes and tests she demanded. The kid was smart; his real problem was that he was a social misfit. So I thought: What if his simple crush on a girl developed into a plan to kidnap her and make her like him back? Aha, almost there.  

I observed this smart but emotionally impaired individual and actually spied on him in other classes and in the cafeteria. He was the perfect inspiration for innocent adoration that escalates into stalking and abduction - Edge of Escape.