Posted On January 9, 2012 by Print This Post

What Inspired Me by Helen Lacey

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.

Buy Links:

Amazon        Amazon UK      Book Depository

Helen Lacey on the web:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Blog           Helen’s Page at RomanceWiki

For full itinerary on Helen’s Celebration tour check out Helen Lacey- Author Page.






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47 Responses to “What Inspired Me by Helen Lacey”

  1. Hi Helen,
    I loved reading about how you craft your books. I’m a pantser too, and find inspiration wherever it strikes me. One time I had the TV on in the background (which is highly unusual for me – I prefer silence, or maybe music) and there was a documentary about the Chemistry of Lipstick. I was intrigued (I have a BSc in Chemistry) and then the thoughts started – what if the heroine was working in a cosmetics company and was working on lipsticks, but her real ambition was to work in creating perfumes? I started typing and the whole story just flowed. Um, OK, so it’s not published, but I had a lot of fun writing it!

    Good luck with the sales – I’m so excited for you, Helen!

    Thanks for having Helen as your special guest, Adrienne!

    Posted by Serena Tatti | January 9, 2012, 4:33 am
  2. Hi Helen,

    Welcome to RU! Thanks for sharing such an intimate part of your writing process.

    I can’t say that anything in particular inspires my writing. So far, my ideas have come from a flash of a single scene–a heroine strapped to a wooden table in a dungeon, a hero talking to his neighbor who is spying on him in order to save her daughter.

    Thanks again for joining us!

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | January 9, 2012, 5:09 am
  3. Hi Helen,

    Write what you know is great advice. I like numbers and the stock market. In my book, All Hours Trading, my heroine is a financial analyst to the undead. Her boyfriend is a vampire. Not my real life, but I can dream.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | January 9, 2012, 6:41 am
  4. Hi Serena – thanks so much for stopping by. I love the sound of a heroine who creates perfumes. It’s amazing where ideas and inspiration can come from 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 6:50 am
  5. Hello Tracey – I love those single scenes that flash into our heads when we aren’t expecting them. Thanks so much for the welcome 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 6:53 am
  6. Hi Helen. Thank you for hanging out with us today. Sometimes I’ll get inspiration from a news story that I’ve read. I usually clip the story and add it to a box I keep handy. Sometimes the smallest detail gives me an idea.

    My friends have also been known to tell me stories and then say “You can’t use this!” LOL.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | January 9, 2012, 7:11 am
  7. Hi Helen!
    Thank you for sharing what inspired you to write Made for Marriage. I currently have it on my Kindle, so no need to enter me into the drawing.

    Like you, I’m a pantser, and my inspiration for stories come from a single idea. One came to me while driving around a blind curve on the way to pick my son up from school. I’d driven it hundreds of times over the years, and for some reason, on one specific trip an idea popped into my head. Now I never travel without a pad and paper! I keep it by my bed, too!

    Congratulations on your new release and good luck on your blog tour!

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 9, 2012, 7:28 am
  8. Helen – Music inspires me. I’m from a musical family and I have sung in a semi-professional capacity since I was really little. I was the little kid dancing to the tunes in my head, a teenage locked in her room pouring over the liner notes to her albums . . . .you get the picture.

    My full with Blaze (still waiting . . .) features a heroine who is a country singer in Nashville, TN. I think I just proved your point! ; )

    Thanks for being with us today and congratulations on your new book!


    Posted by Robin Covington | January 9, 2012, 8:20 am
  9. I teach so my classroom is always a huge source of inspiration, but I also do photography on the side. A few days ago, I shot a birthday party. Nothing major, but this brooding teenage boy kept staring at me. Kind of got under my skin. Made me wonder about his life and it sparked a story idea.

    Posted by E. Newmeyer | January 9, 2012, 8:28 am
  10. I hope that we may be able to get your book in India sometime, Helen. Harlequin Special Edition comes out here as ‘Harlequin Special Moments’, just two titles per month. I’ll watch out for it. Yours sounds like a book I’d love to read.

    Posted by Maria | January 9, 2012, 9:00 am
  11. Hi, Helen –

    Welcome to RU! I aspire to be a plotter (especially since I tend to be organized and efficient in other parts of my life), but I’m not sure it’s meant to be.

    Sometimes I get ideas from songs, but I often find songs after I come up with my idea that I put into a playlist. Some of those make my stories richer. My characters tend to come to me first, but I’ve tried plotting my last couple of stories. Not sure yet if it’s working or not :-).

    Congrats on the release of Made for Marriage!


    Posted by Kelsey Browning | January 9, 2012, 10:37 am
  12. Hello, Helen!

    Being an east coast Canadian, I’ve read all the ‘Anne’ books and loved ‘Little House on the Prairie. I also spent all my babysitting money on Hardy Boys books in my teens. Loved the mysteries and drama, still do.

    I write about cowboys, but have never owned a horse or lived on a ranch, yet readers have commented on how realistic and believable they are.

    My debut novel, Zakia and the Cowboy, was inspired when I heard the name Zakia. I was at work and allowed the idea to mull over in my mind. To me, her name sounded exotic, yet western, and the Thunder Creek Ranch romantic suspense series was born. So, you can easily see how very much a pantser I am.

    Congratulations on writing for Special Edition! Best of luck!

    Posted by Lorraine Nelson | January 9, 2012, 10:48 am
  13. Thanks for a wonderful blog, Helen! Your love for horses is very evident in this post – if it comes out this clearly in your book, I know a lot of horse-loving friends who will snap it up! I haven’t been around horses much myself, but I still enjoy stories about them.

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | January 9, 2012, 11:03 am
  14. Morning Helen!

    I can’t say where any of my ideas come from…lol…there’s no flash or smoke or anything. Just one day I sit in front of my word processor and off it goes. Probably it’s something that’s been simmering around in my brain for awhile, but it sure keeps itself hidden! =)

    Thanks for a great post!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | January 9, 2012, 11:37 am
  15. Let’s hear it for the pansters!

    I swear, I am your twin! I write the exact same why. I find I tend to get more frustrated if I actually try to plot things out too much. I think I must like to be surprised? HA!

    I’m always inspired by music, myself. Song titles, lyrics, or even just melodies. It’s easy for me to sit back and let my mind wander. Sometimes things will solidify into a scene or an idea for a place, and sometimes it’s just a hazy little daydream… both are fun though!

    And I always seem to end up with certain songs that I associate with certain characters. It’s helpful whenever I feel I need to get into someone’s “head”. Just press play on “their song” and the scene (usually) falls into place.

    Congrats on getting published and lots of luck with sales!!
    I newbie to the site, but I sure am enjoying all the content!

    Posted by Kate Ingram | January 9, 2012, 12:16 pm
  16. Hi Adrienne,

    It was lovely reading about what inspired you to to write Made For Marriage.

    The premise of the book is so good and the emotional tension, the family relationships are well done.

    Congratulations on a book well written!

    Wishing you mega sales success!

    Posted by Nas | January 9, 2012, 1:36 pm
  17. Hello Helen!

    What an awesome way to get inspired to write such a fabulous story! Thank you for sharing.

    Will you ever write about a Bridal Shop assistant?

    Posted by Riya | January 9, 2012, 1:50 pm
  18. Hi Mary Jo. A heroine who’s a financial analyst to the undead – sounds awesome!

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:06 pm
  19. Hi Adrienne – it’s great to be here at RU. I’ve been told not to use things to – sometimes I listen, but other times…. (Well, the names as places can be changed!)

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:09 pm
  20. What inspires me is my three cats, music and color.

    I took a ceramics class and the colors I used for the glazes were inspired by what I have in my room and what colors I like. I have a lot of turquoise colored pottery items because I like the color and the way it looks with a red bisque clay as the background. I also have a lot of purple items because I like the color.

    Posted by Amanda Gardner | January 9, 2012, 2:25 pm
  21. Hi Wendy – fabulous to see a fellow panster here. Thank you for your lovely words. Hope you enjoy the book 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:27 pm
  22. Hi Robin – music is such a great inspiration. And what fabulous memories to evoke for your heroine. Hope Blaze loves your book!

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:30 pm
  23. Hello E.Newmeyer. I can only imagine what great inspiration a room full of kiddies would be. Thanks for stopping by today.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:32 pm
  24. Hi Maria – Made For Marriage is being released in the UK and Australia/New Zealand around April/May this year. I hope it comes to your part of the world too. I’ll keep my website updated on release dates. Thank so much for stopping by RU today.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:34 pm
  25. Hi Kelsey – yes, I aspire to to plot too. Much to the despair of my agent :)I also start with characters first and the rest just seems to happen. Thanks for the welcome 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 2:37 pm
  26. Can’t wait for this one. Love to read new Australian authors. 🙂 Never tire of hearing how people get through to their first published story.

    Posted by Michelle Ford | January 9, 2012, 4:11 pm
  27. Hi Lorraine – thank you for stopping by today. Good luck with your novel – Zakia is a fabulous name for a heroine.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 4:14 pm
  28. Hello Becke! Thank you for your comment – lovely to see you here at RU on the second stop of my blog tour.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 4:15 pm
  29. Hi there Carrie – thanks for dropping by today.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 4:57 pm
  30. Hi Helen!

    You wrote: I learned to ‘write what I know’ and my characters met me half way.

    So true! All of my heroines cook and the majority of them are bilingual.

    Thanks for being with us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | January 9, 2012, 6:03 pm
  31. Hi Kate! We’re twins – happy to meet you. I love your list of inspirations. Thanks for dropping by.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 7:52 pm
  32. Hi Nas – thatnks for your nice words about Made For Marriage.

    Hi Riya! Actually, I just finished a book in the same series where the heroine owned a bridal shop. Hopefully it will hit the shelves one day!Thanks 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 7:54 pm
  33. Hello Amanda – you have some fabulous things to inspire you. I’m also taken by the color purple. Thanks for stopping by.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 7:55 pm
  34. Hi Michelle! I like hearing call stories too – they always keep me motivated to write. Thanks for being here. 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 7:57 pm
  35. Hi Jennifer – it’s been fabulous to be here. Thankyou.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 9, 2012, 7:58 pm
  36. Lovely blog, Helen.
    I’m a bit of a pantser, also. I’ve tried planning a story out from scratch, and it looks fine as a synopsis. But then the characters come to life and … everything changes. And that’s fine by me — it’s much more interesting to write when you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next.

    Posted by Anne Gracie | January 9, 2012, 11:13 pm
  37. Great post!! And you’ve really got me thinking. All my heroine’s have some sort of creative pursuit that drives them deep down. A lot of my stories have something to do with performing, which is made not really a surprise because performing is something I haven’t done in a long time but used to really LOVE!

    Posted by Rachael Johns | January 9, 2012, 11:42 pm
  38. Hi Anne – thanks for stopping by RU today. I always like hearing about other pansters 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 10, 2012, 2:07 am
  39. Hi Rach! Would have pegged you for a performer 🙂 Your heroine Peppa in your book One Perfect Night certainly had that talented gene. Thanks for stopping by.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 10, 2012, 2:09 am
  40. My kids inspire me every day. My littlest has a particularly funny view of the world. My mum was my inspiration and I still think of her every day. Great post!

    Posted by Bec | January 10, 2012, 3:51 am
  41. Hi Helen
    It was great reading about what inspires you. I think “write what you know” is great advice, especially for newbies like me.
    I’m often inspired by stories I hear on the radio. I listen to ABC Radio National, and I often hear fascinating stories about topics I couldn’t have thought of in a million years. A story on the social issues program, “Life Matters” is responsible for a massive plot bunny (think were-rabbit from Wallace and Grommit) I’m about to tackle.
    Looking forward to Made for Marriage.

    Posted by Natalie Moress | January 10, 2012, 4:53 am
  42. Hi Bec – thanks for stopping by. Lovely words about your inspiration.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 10, 2012, 6:35 am
  43. Hi Natalie – great to see you here at RU. Isn’t it great when the smallest snippet or TV program, or song can give you an idea? 🙂

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 10, 2012, 6:39 am
  44. And the winner is!
    Carrie Spencer.
    Carrie, you have won a signed copy of Made For Marriage – please leave your details on the contact form at my website and I will send off your prize.

    Posted by Helen Lacey | January 10, 2012, 1:10 pm
  45. Congratulations Carrie!

    Posted by Nas | January 11, 2012, 2:08 pm

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