Sunday, April 08, 2018

JUST ONE SPARK: Where do you get your ideas?

JUST ONE SPARK releases tomorrow, so I've been going through promotional material from the first time it came out. This was featured on The Idea Boutique :: 

A firefighter fit for a calendar caught me in the grocery store checkout line, two tantrum-prone toddlers ready to bolt. The man was a dream, both because of how he looked and because he stopped his day to talk with my boys, giving them stickers and a distraction so I could pay for seven gallons of milk. These were big toddlers, people.

Safely securing my beasts into the only thing that can hold them down – a five point harness car seat – I turned the radio up and headed for home, thinking that maybe that fire fighter should play a role in the novel I was starting the next day as part of my first NaNoWriMo, if only he hadn’t had a ring on his finger. 

No matter, I work in fiction and I had almost twelve hours to come up with a reason for the ring. Quite proud of myself I turned the radio up, Mindy McCready’s Maybe, Maybe Not coming across the front speakers (don’t want to damage the delicate eardrums of the screachers in the back) of my compact sedan.

What if … Mr. Hunk-of-the-Month had to explain the ring to a woman sitting on a washing machine in a Laundromat? Instantly, I was dying to write the scene. I stayed up until midnight (unheard of when you have a child who routinely wakes at four-twenty to begin his day) just to get the scene out. I didn't care about what came next, didn't plot a character arc or layer in symbolism. The story unfolded as I imagined what I would want to read if I picked the book up at the store and shelled out the change from my last trip through the Coffee People drive-thru.

The way I wrote Just One Spark defies everything I’ve learned about novel writing since. If I’d known you never sell your first book, every scene needs goals, motivation and conflict, or that this is a hard business to break into, I never would have tried. Thank goodness for naivete.

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