Where DO you get your story ideas?

Dear Friends,

I am told that the question most often asked writers is some version of “Where do your ideas come from?”  Interestingly, I am rarely asked that question when meeting the public anywhere in Arkansas or the surrounding area of the Ozarks in Missouri or Oklahoma.  I think that’s because, to Arkansans at least, the fact each of my novels is set in a specific real place in Arkansas that many people, from here and away, visit annually answers the question.  I get my ideas from my chosen special locations and the history there that has an impact on the present day.

But there is more to it than that, and the “more” is how my experience probably parallels that of most authors.

Ideas for my mystery novels come from my imagination, from my life experience, and from what I read in the news.  (Most others would say from television news, but we don’t have cable and don’t get network stations out here in the forest, though we do watch the News Hour on Public Television.)  However, I listen to public radio, and read four newspapers, including our small-town weekly, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (state-wide, with sections included covering our area of NW AR), The Christian Science Monitor (international and USA news), and The New York Times (national and international).  And yes, ideas do sometimes come from that reading.  (For example, what type of crime has NOT been covered in those newspapers?)

How about intuition and a long knowledge of the human experience? Yes.

How about other people — are your friends or general family in that writing?   No, not to my conscious knowledge, except as they fit into the human condition.

How about Radine?  Is she in your story?  Umm, well, yes, and, I think, beyond the fact the story is coming from my imagination.  Am I found in my major female character, Carrie McCrite?  The two of us are not alike any more than two friends would normally be, but, understanding her, I can put myself in her shoes while writing of her experiences.  If she is terrorized, I feel chills.  If she is sad, I cry.  That’s how it goes for most writers, I suspect.  I was once at a talk given by Janet Dailey, well-known romance writer, and, when a woman in the audience dared ask her if, when writing erotic scenes, she felt aroused, she admitted, after some hesitation, that she did.  Here is how she put it.  “My husband says he can always tell when I am writing a love scene.”

So, use your imagination.

How about my own husband, is he Henry?  Not in any physical similarity, but, perhaps–more than any character including Carrie– Henry King copies a real person. You might say Henry’s life honors that of John Nehring.

People have sometimes asked me if authors writing violent or terrifying scenes have violent or terrifying thoughts.  Would I be afraid to be alone with Stephen King, for example.  Nope.  Truth be told, I did write one violent, terrifying scene in A RIVER TO DIE FOR, and, though I felt FOR Catherine, who was experiencing this, I wasn’t frightened.  Not a bit.

How about you?  Readers — have you asked an author, “Where to you get your ideas?” What was the answer?

Writers, Where DO you get your story ideas?

Sincerely, Radine, at http://www.RadinesBooks.com

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