Monday, July 6, 2015

Ask an Author - Where do you get your ideas? Lynn Cahoon


Hi Gang, It's Lynn Cahoon here... The most common question I get, including from family is this. Where do I get my ideas?
 
Where do I get my ideas? The voices tell me.

Okay, so now you think I’m insane, but honestly, there are three ways a story starts to gel for me. It can be setting, like the fictional town of South Cove where my tourist trap mysteries are set. I visited a small tourist town on the coast and fell in love with a house for sale. The house kept me thinking about the area, and Guidebook to Murder started to form after that.

Another way I get ideas is from a situation. What would happen if? In the tourist trap series, my situational question is what would happen to a Type A personality who after spending a week on vacation, decides to chuck it all and open a coffee shop.

But the final place I get ideas from is the voices. Once I’ve got an idea in mind, the voices start to populate my new imaginary world. Jill needs a BFF, and Amy Newman walks on the page, all surfer girl with a nerdy brain. Jill’s got a lot on her plate, so she asks her Aunt Jackie to come and help with the coffee shop/bookstore for a week or two. First day running the joint, and her aunt hires Toby Killion, the hot, hunky part time police detective. And it goes on and on.

I love meeting the new characters, finding out who they are, and where they fit into the story. The thing I don’t like is naming them. I like characters with ‘s’ names. Sarah, Sally, Seth, Shauna. I also apparently really like the name Derek as a secondary character since I had a guy by that name in two different series. I went through a ‘j’ stage – Jill, James, Jesse, Jake. But I think I’ve broken my same name habit. Or at least I hope.

Don’t get me wrong, I kind of plot. I do bullet points of each of the chapters and then work my way through the story as I write. However, most times, I don’t have the points in the right chapter. The characters have taken over the story.

I had one story where I had a love scene in the wrong place. My characters when right up to the edge, then balked. Kind of like a horse with a jump and the rider, me, gets thrown off. When I dusted off my jeans, I asked what the heck just happened, and my heroine said, “I’m not ready yet.”

So my hot love scene got moved and the hero stole a good night kiss instead.

Some writers don’t agree with the voices argument. They swear they are in total control of their creative process. I think the girls in the attic are keeping them from seeing the true magic.

Now it’s time for you to chime in. Do you believe in the voices? Or as a reader do you really not care where the stories come from, as long as they keep coming?

Lynn

Dressed to Kill

Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More in the tucked-away town of South Cove, California—is not particularly thrilled to be portraying a twenties flapper for the dinner theater murder mystery. Though it is for charity…

Of course everyone is expecting a “dead” body at the dress rehearsal…but this one isn’t acting! It turns out the main suspect is the late actor’s conniving girlfriend Sherry…who also happens to be the ex-wife of Jill’s main squeeze. Sherry is definitely a master manipulator…but is she a killer? Jill may discover the truth only when the curtain comes up on the final act…and by then, it may be far too late.

 

"Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true." --Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries

1 comment:

  1. My ideas come from some of the same places as yours--of course ideas pop into my head--but I also see articles in the newspaper that make me thing, h'mmm, what if it went like this... Because I write series, I do have some continuing things that I need to work on, and new ones to think up to confront the characters. I love writing and it sounds like you do too.

    ReplyDelete