I’ve let this blog lie fallow too long. It’s time to start cultivating it again. It is, after all, almost spring.
My good friend, Ellis Vidler, very kindly agreed to help me get things started by sharing her ideas on a topic writers find endlessly fascinating, but often elusive.
Inspiration comes from many places, often when you least expect it—a face in a crowd, a news article, an issue, sometimes a vivid scene. Looking through Flickr one evening, I stumbled across a photograph, not related to anything in particular, and the idea for Prime Target was born.
It suggests a refuge, a place of peace to me. I dreamed about it, thought what had to happen, what kind of people would live there. And most important to me, why they would live there.
Not far from my home is a large apple-growing area around Hendersonville, North Carolina, so I set my novel there. It made research convenient, and it’s a beautiful area, so it was fun to visit. I met some gracious apple farmers who shared some of their experiences and took time to answer my questions. We did eat a lot of apples that autumn, and I sampled many varieties I wasn’t familiar with. The apple farms always offer a slice if you want to try something different. Aside from just eating apples, we made apple pie, apple cake, apple butter, fried apples. My favorites are Mutsus and the tangy Pink Ladies, which we’re eating now.
For a novel though, I need more. I wanted a character with a contrasting life style, so Madeleine Schier, a sophisticated New Yorker, was born. A smart, knowledgeable advertising executive, she has a comfortable life with her accountant husband, no worries. Then one afternoon, her husband, in a panic, calls her to come home. She rushes to their West End condo with no idea what’s wrong, only to witness his murder. Now she’s the killer’s target. When the police are unable to protect her, she believes her only choice is to disappear.
Then came the second picture, but it wasn’t an accident. During a search for victims of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), I found a photograph of an actor made up to have shrapnel damage. He was portraying one of the crew in the movie Master and Commander. My character is badly damaged, both physically and mentally, but the tied-back black hair and general look suggested Charlie Dance, the other main character, someone quite different from Madeleine but still compatible. Even though they’d be unlikely to ever meet during normal times, the events directing their current lives put them on a collision course, which is what makes the story.
The deer with apples picture is by a photographer who uses the pseudonym Jan Tik; so many people wanted to use it, he graciously put it in the public domain. Flickr.com is a site where people upload all kinds of photos, amateur and professional. It’s an excellent source of information and inspiration. But be warned—most are copyrighted and you can’t just snag them to use publicly. I’ve written to several photographers for permission to use a particular picture. Some people say yes, others don’t.
Thank you, Ellis. I appreciate your taking time to share your ideas about writing. As always, I’m encouraged – even inspired – to hear from a fellow writer.
Readers, if you’d like to know more about Ellis and her books, here’s a link to her website: http://www.ellisvidler.com
Here’s a link to Prime Target: amzn.to/19eBfcD