Robin posted about inspiration vs. perspiration and doing Q&A's with readers. (The pic on the left is from a Q&A in a bookstore in Pennsylvania...I think!..., and I'm pretty sure Judy is talking because the rest of us are looking at her. When Judy talks, people listen!) Q&A's are a lot of fun--you never know what someone might ask!--but the most common question asked at events tends to be this one: Where do you get your ideas?
The answer: EVERYWHERE!
For instance (focusing on my historicals since this an historical blog)...
My first historical, Waiting for Summer's Return, was inspired by a row of 1860s tombstones in a lonely plot alongside a highway--a father and four children, the youngest of whom was only four months old when he died. I can remember standing there, looking at those names and dates, with my heart aching for the unknown wife/mother, wondering how she bore such sorrow and what happened to her. The story grew from my inner ponderings.
Where Willows Grow grew from the shadows of an abandoned farmstead while I was on a church hayrack ride. It was dusk, and as we passed the time-worn barn, it seemed a woman stepped from the blackened doorway into my imagination and began sharing her story with me. I simply transcribed it.
One of my favorite stories (am I allowed to have a favorite?) is My Heart Remembers because it was inspired by someone very dear to me--my stepgrandmother, who rode an orphan train to a new home when she was a little girl. Although researching that story was heartbreaking, it gave me great pleasure to dedicate a story to a woman who so positively impacted my life.
Where the Heart Leads came about because of reader feedback. So many readers wanted to know what happened to Summer, Peter, and Thomas (from Waiting for Summer's Return) that Bethany House allowed me to write a follow up story focusing on the family ten years down the road. The date landed me smack in the middle of a presidential election, which provided fodder on which to build.
Crafting Fields of Grace was especially meaningful because it's a page from my own family history. My mother's ancestors left the grassy plains of Russia for a life ripe with religious freedom in America. They brought with them the Turkey Red Wheat that turned the central states into America's breadbasket. I borrowed names from my family tree--Lillian (my paternal grandmother) and Reinhardt (my great-great-grandfather)--and wove familial events from my maternal history into the story's fiber. In many ways, Fields of Grace is a heartbreaking story--much loss and uncertainties--but it's special to me because God so clearly was in every step of their journey.
Then there's A Hopeful Heart--the result of a casual comment by a fellow cruiser when my folks, hubby, and I were in Alaska ("You're from Kansas? I spent a summer in Kansas, at a herdsman school") raised all kinds of fun tingles up and down my spine. Before I knew it, the Wyatt Herdsman School was erected in Barnett, Kansas, and six hopeful young ladies enrolled to learn the skills they'd need to be good wives for area ranchers. Mail-order brides...with a twist. :o)
The desire to give the little street urchin Petey from My Heart Remembers his own story grew into In Every Heartbeat. And Courting Miss Amsel sprouted when I decided to write a story to honor teachers and the impact they can make on children's lives.
Inspiration is everywhere--one just has to keep her ears, eyes, and heart open. I love when stories blossom in my imagination. I feel as though God plants a seed, then in time He splashes the seed with water and lets it grow. With each story, a spiritual nugget gained by a character becomes something that benefits me in my Christian walk. So starting a new story is always an adventure--an adventure in whimsy, but also an adventure in faith. Pretty cool, huh?
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
P.S.--As for DWTS...I'm rootin' for the Karate Kid! :o)