Have you ever wondered what inspires stories for authors? Where do they get their great ideas? The answer? Sometimes in the strangest places.
Shortly before I wrote Oslo Overtures (working title Pink Skies), I was listening to the radio on the way to work one morning. The presenter was discussing female pilots and listeners were invited to call in and give their opinions. One caller, I think it was actually a woman who clearly was not in favor of female pilots, commented that if women were meant to fly, the skies would be pink. And so the seeds were planted for my story of a woman in the testosterone-heavy environment of wingsuit pilots.
One evening, Autumn Macarthur and I were chatting over Facebook Messenger about creating a multi-author series. It didn’t take us long to realize that we each had a secondary character in one of our books who had something in common … Tuscany. And so the idea formed for a series of books about one Italian family, and A Tuscan Legacy was born.
Last week, I asked another author friend, Ashley Winter, if she had a “seeds of a story” story to share. This is what she said:
As a writer, I get asked the question now and then, “Where do you get your ideas for all your stories?”
Now, if you’ve met a fiction author, or have an author friend, you‘ll know we love to talk about our novels like parents love to talk about their children. Truthfully though, I have only one book where I developed the storyline from a seed, and that title is Rachel’s Blessing.
A few years ago, I heard a bittersweet account of a young woman who’d left her home country for an adventure on the other side of the globe. While she was there, she fell in love and had a whirlwind romance for a few months. Then came the heartbreaking goodbye and her return home. After a short while back, the woman realised she was pregnant and the discovery left her torn between the life she loved with her family, and a brand new one on the other side of the world with the father of her coming child – the man she was starting to love.
This real life story and its intense emotion intrigued me for years, and I imagined how the same scenario would play out between an unmarried Christian couple, considering the additional dynamics of regret, shame, grace and healing that it would involve.
And so began the sprouting of the Rachel’s Blessing seed, Book One in my thirteen book series, Love in South Africa.
(PS: Moral of the story, be careful what you share with your author friends! You might find yourself the main character between the pages of their latest book!)”
I loved reading about where Ashley got her idea for that first book. Thanks so much for sharing that with us, Ashley. Several of my books, too, have been the product of something that happened to someone I knew. Not their stories, but rather my stories were sparked by their lives.
The idea for my most recent story, In an English Vintage Garden, now available on preorder in the Mosaic summer anthology, Before Summer’s End, and releasing on June 3, was literally sparked by seeds. I had been scrolling through news feeds on my phone when a headline caught my eye: “Calgary woman finds heirloom seeds in attic, hopes to grow vintage flowers.” As I gazed at the image in the article of the dusty old wooden tray with its bottles and seed packets, a story idea began to grow. And this is what happened:
An unexpected inheritance unlocks secrets from the past.
Jack Lancaster. A name Ellen Oakley has never heard before, and yet the old man has left Ellen an English seaside cottage in his will.
With a catastrophic year behind her—a broken engagement, the sudden death of her father, and more recently, lay-offs at work, she being one of the casualties—the only thing standing in Ellen’s way of flying to England to claim her inheritance and make a fresh start, is Lillian Oakley, her mother.
It takes some convincing, but Ellen manages to get her mom to agree to accompany her to England for a time. As the quaint English cottage on the Norfolk shores offers up its ghosts and skeletons in the closet, one woman finds closure, the other a new beginning.
Here’s what some early readers are saying about In an English Vintage Garden:
Wow, this book was everything I thought it would be and more. I was definitely not disappointed. A beautiful seaside cottage in England with very lovable characters and a lot of mystery. I would really love to see a series come from this book. ~ Sherry Weaver Ferguson
This was one of the best books ever. ~ Terry Weaver Silva
In closing, I thought you might enjoy peeking at the part of this story where my heroine finds her vintage seeds …
Standing outside the plant-filled structure made mostly from glass, Ellen clutched the seed tray underneath one arm and opened the door. She could tell her mother was going to spend a lot of time in here. “Mom, I’ve something for you that’s going to make you freak out.”
Mom set her tools down as Ellen plunked the tray with its dusty bottles and packets down on the table beside her.
“What’s that?” Mom asked.
“Vintage seeds,” Ellen announced, proud of her find.
Her mother’s face lit up. “Goodness gracious, where did you find those?”
“In the attic.”
Mom lifted a bottle, then another, her hands trembling. Her jaw dropped in wonder. “These are so old. They must be valuable.” She examined the contents then shook a few seeds out into her palm.
“Do you think they’ll still grow?” Ellen asked as she stared at the tiny seeds.
Mom shrugged. “I doubt it. They’re so old, but I guess I could try to cultivate a few seeds, see what happens.”
In an English Vintage Garden is available on preorder in Before Summer’s End.
I will be giving away a free copy of my story, In an English Vintage Garden to one commenter on this post, and Ashley Winter will be giving away a free copy of Rachel’s Blessing to another reader who comments below.