As writers, I’m sure we’d all like to have a nickel for each time someone asked “Where do you get your ideas?” I’d love to put ten writers in a room and ask that question. I think the answers would be fascinating.
With this topic in mind, let’s give a big RU welcome to Harlequin Special Edition author Helen Lacey who will tell us where she finds inspiration.
As a writer I’m not much of a plotter. I simply think of an idea, let it roll around in my head for a while, work out the names of my characters and then I start writing. Being a panster isn’t exactly a fool proof process – there can be loads of re-writes, revisions and sometimes a whole lot of frustration not experienced by my much better organized plotter cousins. But it’s the process I have and mostly it works for me. Ideas for new stories always seem to be in abundance. A television program I watched late one night about twins separated at birth and then reconnecting years later was the basis for a book I wrote last year. A teenage friend from long ago who gave a child up for adoption is the core idea for the third book I recently sold to Harlequin Special Edition. Sometimes a song can spark the creativity, or a picture in a magazine, or just two people talking in the street. But I think ideas are different to inspiration. When I wrote Made For Marriage I literally had a 2am epiphany. I’d spent years trying to write a book to ‘fit’ the Harlequin line I was targeting. Rejection after rejection made it clear that wasn’t working. But on this occasion I actually bolted up in bed in the dark and said out loud ‘write what you know’. Which wasn’t anything new – I’d been hearing this from other more experienced writers for years – but until that moment I didn’t actually understand what it meant.
It didn’t mean that since I’d once been a florist I should write about a girl who sells flowers because I knew how to bundle up a bunch of roses in pretty paper and ribbon. Or that because I’d been a horse riding instructor my heroine should also be interested in horses. Or did it? My two a.m epiphany got me thinking. Seriously thinking. Maybe I’d got it wrong? Because as it turned out, the heroine in Made For Marriage is a horse riding instructor and former elite equestrian. And once I started to write about this woman I understood what ‘write what you know’ meant. Because I knew her.
You see I love horses and they’ve been a big part of my life since I was twelve years old when I got my very first horse – a big bay called Oakey. I had him for fourteen years and to the often moody and restless teenager that I was, in many ways he became my best friend. They’ve also felt like my totem animal since I was a child. I mean that I adore my dogs too – but my horses – they squash any feelings of discontent or unhappiness life might toss my way. I’m never cross or cranky when I’m around my ponies. My husband and I own eight horses of varying ages and breeds and each has a special place in my heart. I work with them every afternoon for a couple of hours – feeding, grooming or riding. This is ‘my’ time – when I stop thinking about work and just enjoy the hours I can spend with them. And yet until I wrote Made For Marriage I’d never written a heroine who shared that love and connection. And honestly I’m still not sure why. Perhaps it was too close, too personal, too raw. But as I wrote the book I discovered that the raw honesty I always avoided, suddenly made my heroine come to life. She felt incredibly ‘real’. Like someone I’d met before – maybe a sister, or friend, or neighbour. She was suddenly someone I wanted to get to know. And as the story progressed ‘write what you know’ became about the feelings she had, the depth of emotion in her character, the way she responded to things, and not about her occupation. I finally had a heroine whose journey I understood. And my love of horses inspired that. Because my heroine shared that same love and connection.
So once I decided not to fight myself the words flowed out and the story was written. A year or so later my agent called to say Harlequin Special Edition wanted to buy my book. So maybe that’s the trick. We are all the sum of our experiences. Not defined by them, but made up of likes and dislikes, passions and fears, love and loss. Of course not every heroine I write about in the future will be a horse enthusiast – in fact my heroine in my second book out in Fall this year is an artist – and I can’t draw a stick figure. But her passion is there. Her connection to her art is just as strong as my heroine in Made For Marriage is connected to her horses. I learned to ‘write what I know’ and my characters met me half way.
Made For Marriage hit the shelves in January 2012 and I have copies to give way on my blog tour. I’m also giving away a $50.00 Amazon Voucher and for those who like a little bling, a fabulous Pandora silver bracelet!
RU Crew, what inspires you? Your kids? Your job? Your pets? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and you could win a copy of Made For Marriage.
Thank you to Helen for hanging out with us today. Readers, join us on Wednesday when literary agent Sara Megibow gives us the scoop on managing audio rights.
BIO: Helen Lacey grew up reading Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on The Prairie. These childhood classics inspired her to write her first book when she was seven years old, a story about a girl and her horse. Although, it wasn’t until the age of eleven when she read her first Mills & Boon, that she knew writing romances was what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents’ love of travel meant she saw much of the world in those early years and she feels fortunate to have had a diverse and interesting education over several continents.
She continued to write into her teens and twenties with the dream of one day being a published author. A few years and careers later, including motel operator, florist, strapper, dog washer, and retail manager, she got the call from Harlequin Special Edition. She loves writing about tortured heroes, both cowboys and CEO’s, and heroines who finally get the love of the man of their dreams. She now works part time in her sister’s bridal shop, where she gets to meet fascinating people, some of whom might one day end up being in one of her books.
From Welsh parents and a large family, she lives on the east coast of Australia in a small seaside town at the southern most point of The Great Barrier Reef, with her wonderfully supportive husband, many horses and three spoiled dogs.
Helen Lacey on the web:
For full itinerary on Helen’s Celebration tour check out Helen Lacey- Author Page.