Although I've been scribbling and selling the odd bit of short fiction for a long time, since my novel, Wolfe's Lady, debuted from Evernight Publishing a few weeks ago, more people are aware that I write fiction.
The same questions pop up again and again. People want to know where I get my ideas and how I started writing stories. Both are more than a little hard to answer because the ideas just come. I start with a flicker of an idea, a notion, or just an image and it builds. Or, like Topsy, it grows.
It isn't easy to share how I started writing stories because long before I wrote them down, I told them and played them.
When other little girls were playing Mommy to their dolls or house, I wanted to be the bride. At a very early age, I would put first my mother's bridal veil and later my First Communion veil on my head, pick up a bouquet of plastic flowers, and wait while my cousins grabbed their youngest brother. Bill and I are close in age, like Irish twins but he was a relunctant groom. That didn't matter to me in my wedding finery that often included one of my mother's lacy slips or an old dress. Nor did it matter that the groom had to be held in place by his brother, the "preacher" who married us.
Another of my favorite games was something I called "Story of A Slave Girl" in which I attempted to force my younger brother to be the "master" while I, as the slave girl, danced in wild circles around the room while some old record blared on my parent's record player. Since he was only about three, he made a rather clueless master but I liked the idea very much.
I fell in love for the first time when I was nine, with the boy who lived next door to my aunt. Our big family played with his many siblings but it was Joe that I dreamed of as my special sweetheart. It probably isn't a coincidence that I wrote my first novel, a pathetic rip-off of Gone With The Wind that same year. My version was called Good-bye Dixie.
Inspired by Barnabus Collins on Dark Shadows, I also played vampire games with my buddies on the school playground. On another occasion, my cousin - yes, it was Bill - and I ran into a living, breathing werewolf in the brambles behind the picnic shelter at a big park in our hometown. I imagine that deep in my subconcious the root idea behind Wolfe's Lady began to grow even then.
I think that my childhood play and my often wild imagination must be the stories behind the stories, the foundation on which I build my fiction. My late cousin, Mary, said once that she should have known that I would be the writer because I was the one who dreamed up the creative games and scenarios to play.
I like stories and I'm glad I can count on the stories behind the stories for inspiration!