Whenever I meet someone new and mention I’m a novelist, their first question is often, “Where do you get your ideas?” I’m absolutely shameless and will scavenge for inspiration everywhere. I could be out shopping and overhear an intriguing conversation. While doing research for one book, I’ll find ideas for several more. I love going to the movies, and a minor character might spark my imagination and take me in a completely new direction. I keep a notebook to jot down the ideas flowing around me before they’re forgotten. I also record my dreams.
Last night I had a vivid dream that would make a great scene in a thriller. It was at the seashore on a cold and windy day. A woman was standing on a rocky ledge shouting to a man in the water who appeared to be holding a child. He could have been rescuing her, or threatening to drown her. The noise of the surf made it impossible to hear the shouts between them. Suddenly, the man let go of the child and swam away. The woman dove into the freezing water and grabbed what she thought was her beloved child, but it was only a crudely made doll with features inked on a pale cotton face. She’d been fooled by the doll’s long black hair floating on the water and been cruelly tricked.
I woke up then and while I thought I’d recall the dream in the morning, I got up and made some notes just to be certain. It was such a good scene, sharp, emotional, possibly tragic, and I could create a story of a kidnapping, or custody dispute with an unbalanced spouse. The point is, I didn’t just roll over and think I’d recall it in the morning. I caught it while it was hot.
When great ideas fall into your lap, as in a dream, or from your own experience, add them to your great idea file and keep them. Whenever I hear someone say they can’t think of anything to write, I always wonder why they don’t have a file or notebook full of ideas to spark their imagination.
History is filled with conflict and a rich source for ideas. I had the pleasure of touring Scandinavia and fell in love with Viking culture. There are wonderful museums with beautiful thousand-year-old artifacts that provide excellent detail to make a story come alive. There is a museum in Oslo with the Oseberg ship found in a burial mound. It’s complete down to the intricate carvings and is a marvelous thing to see. There’s another Viking ship museum in Roskilde, Denmark. In approximately 1070, the five ships were sunk in the harbor to protect the city from invasion. They were excavated in 1962 and are displayed in a stark modern building on the coast. Standing beside them I felt an eerie sensation, as though the ships were haunted by the men who’d sailed them.
My October Retro Release from Samhain is BY LOVE ENSLAVED, a Viking tale with a young woman charged with the responsibility of taming a Celtic slave. He promises to follow her every command, if she’ll take him for her lover.
First published in 1989, it’s long been a fan favorite, and I’m thrilled to have it available as an ebook.
I’ll send a pdf copy to someone who comments. Do you ever have dreams, or experiences you could turn into books? Have you done so? Make sure you leave a valid contact email.
Please come to my website, www.phoebeconn.com for details about my latest releases.