The first question I am invariably asked when I
tell people I am an author is...
Where do you get your ideas? And the answer I always give? Everywhere!
Because inspiration is all around us. Walking past us on the street,
looking back at us from the TV, sliding by in our dreams, locked away deep
inside our memories. So how do you tap into all of these everyday
opportunities to find the next big idea? How can you make sure all that
inspiration doesn't pass you by? Here are some ways I have found to tap
into my muse whenever inspiration strikes.
Keep a notebook on you at all times!
I have long since made a habit
of this. You never when when the next big idea is going to hit.
Often you tell yourself, "Wow! What a whopper! I will never forget
this idea!" and then by the time you get home, the crux of the big idea has
become mush. WRITE IT DOWN! It's like when you wake up and your
dreams are so vivid and real, but by the time you get out of the shower 90% of
the dream has disappeared back into your subconscious.
Keep the front of your notebook for grocery lists,
and general notes to self, but keep the back for everything book related.
Names, places, plots, small ideas, big ideas, funny scenarios, you won't regret
it. And months from now, when you are looking for something to spark an
idea, turn to the back of your old notebook and you will be pleasantly surprised
by all the juicy snippets found therein.
off the wall
Keep an inspiration wall within sight of your
I always cast my books. If
I was making this book into a film, who would best epitomise the characters
look, essence, energy?
Pick a couple of pictures, plaster them on a
corkboard above your monitor, use them as the background on your computer, paste
them on the title page of your work in progress, do whatever you need to do to
hook into the very particular sensibility and emotional hooks that each character
A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER, I used Raoul Bova (the supremely gorgeous
one-who-got-away from Under the Tuscan Sun) as inspiration for my hero Luca Siracusa. The slick haircut, sexy smile but oh so kind eyes summed up my
hunky yet damaged
This one picture of Sherilyn Fenn encapsulated Gracie
Lane's cheeky, hot-blooded energy. I always thought of her as a naughty
Snow White and loved the juxtaposition of the glass of wine, packet of crisps,
sexy red dress, bare feet, while sitting on the kitchen sink. Isn't she
Travel with a writers eye.
A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER all began with a picture of the Trevi Fountain I
had found on the internet when I was daydreaming about our upcoming trip to
Gracie was already swimming in my head as she had appeared in my two previous
books MARRIAGE MAKE-OVER and
HOW TO MARRY A BILLIONAIRE. But she
was such a cheeky thing, (her friend Kelly referred to her as "racy Gracie", a
girl with a "penchant
for red lipstick and a vocabulary that would put a wharfie to shame")
and I wasn't sure how I could make her
into heroine material. But then picturing this spitfire, sitting on the
edge of the huge fountain, all alone, desolate, without her friends she suddenly
needed my help big time!
Before I went to Rome, I started writing the story, knowing
I could fill in the flavour and sights and sounds when I returned. This
was a huge help, having the framework of the story down first, as when I hit the
Trevi Fountain (where the book begins) I knew what I was looking for, I soaked
in the flavour of the place with a writer's eye rather than a tourist's eye.
Here are a couple of moments in the book which were taken purely from my own
experiences traveling through the region in question:
At the Trevi Fountain:
There were people everywhere, tourists throwing coins, local
men selling bottle openers emblazoned with the Pope’s face, pairs of nuns
sifting through the bottle openers, shysters “giving away” one Euro roses.
In a cafe in Rome:
Pictures of an Italian movie star Gracie did not recognise
lined the walls, and a television tucked high in the corner played the Italian
version of an American reality TV show. It only reminded her how disjointed
she felt so far from home; everything was at once familiar but just out of
So remember, inspiration is all around you.
Be receptive to new ideas, keep track of all ideas big and small, and go looking
for them, and you will never run out concepts from which to launch your next
great work of fiction!