Where Ideas Come From

Authors are sometimes asked where we get ideas for our stories.

Sitting in the tasting room of a winery one day, I looked around at the family pictures and noticed every one of the owner’s adult children were somehow involved in winemaking. When I wrote my first book in my Love in Wine Country series, the seed had been planted and Paige Reynoso, her parents, siblings, cousins and their Napa Valley, California, setting was born.

Sometimes ideas come straight out of the news. Other times, ideas come from casual conversations like the one I had with my husband’s nephew. Kyle, visiting Washington, D.C., decided to visit his cousin Kate. He hadn’t seen her in eight years. Waiting in a coffee shop, he saw her come in, gave her a big hug, met the friend she’d brought with her, and went to his table to wait for them to get their coffee.

They got it and went outside to another table. Odd, he thought. He got up and followed them, sat down, carried on a one-sided conversation about things they’d done in the past, family members Kyle hadn’t seen in a while. Vague, somewhat unrelated responses were made, and nothing new was offered. Thinking she was having a bad day or was no longer interested in family, he decided to leave.

Then a young woman came in, called his name, rushed over and gave him a big hug. It was the real Kate. He’d been chatting up a stranger and the stranger hadn’t said anything to set him straight. This might be in a future book. It’s called a “meet cute.”

A fellow author recently posted on Facebook about a hit and run accident that supposedly involved her daughter. The police officer who questioned the daughter and examined the undamaged car came to the conclusion that the real suspect was the accuser, trying to put blame on someone else. After a friendly conversation about police training and college courses the daughter should take (she wanted to go into law enforcement), the officer left.

“I plotted an entire suspense novel in my head just listening to this conversation,” said my friend. “You never know where ideas are going to come from.”

In my second wine country book, I describe a house in need of restoration. I actually saw a house like this perched on a cliff overlooking the harbor in Dana Point, CA many years ago. And in my third book, a car chase that opens the book actually happened to several unsuspecting women on lonely roads at night in my area until the perpetrator was caught.

The food in my upcoming February release, A Swoon of Sauvignon Blanc, comes right out of a tapas restaurant in Las Vegas. It’s a friends to lovers story featuring a food and wine pairing competition.

Stories are everywhere. You almost don’t have to look for them. Just stay alert and store them up. You never know when you might use one.

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