Ideas Lurk in the Nooks and Crannies of a Writer’s Brain by Ann H. Gabhart
Since I published my first book way back in 1978, I have often been asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” The only right answer to that question is everywhere. Ideas come in all shapes and sizes and sneak into a writer’s head by many different avenues.
Those ideas can rise up out of history books or maybe an exhibit at a museum. I might stumble across the initial idea in a newspaper article or even one of those historical marker signs along the road. Then again something I see on television or in a movie might spark an idea, or perhaps a comment from a friend might set my story gears to grinding. Most writers like to draw from their own experiences and the experiences of their families. I’ve certainly done that for the backgrounds of several of my stories. The setting of my Heart of Hollyhill books came straight from what I remembered my little town of Lawrenceburg being like during the 1960s. Then I used my mother’s background of growing up during the Great Depression for the Rosey Corner books, especially Angel Sister, where Mom’s memories are threaded all through the story.
That’s why I looked to my hometown for inspiration when I was ready to write my third Hidden Springs Mystery, and got the spark of an idea from an old house. I always admired the house when I was a kid. I didn’t want to live there since it was on Main Street and I was definitely a country girl who liked fields and trees around me even then. But this house had a really neat tower room with windows all around.
I have a thing about windows. I love a room full of windows. Somehow looking out at green trees gets my creative juices to flowing. I like having my desk in front of a window and now I’m blessed to have four big windows in my office. So, when I was a kid just dreaming of being a writer, I thought that tower room in that big Queen Anne style house looked like the perfect place to hide out and write stories.
Fast forward more than fifty years. Now the house is empty as the descendants of the original builder of the house have bought it with hopes of restoring it after years of neglect by a previous owner. It’s still an imposing house and suddenly with a mystery in mind, it looked like the perfect setting for a murder or two.
So I introduced a new character in Murder Is No Accident, Maggie, a young teenage want-to-be writer, who sneaks into that old house to write stories in that tower room. Since I already had my Main Street town of Hidden Springs well established from my first two Hidden Springs mysteries, Murder at the Courthouse and Murder Comes by Mail, it was easy to add the house outside of town beside the cemetery.
That old house becomes a sort of character in my mystery as only an old house can with so much life lived inside its walls. The opening scene finds Maggie hiding out in that tower room to write in her notebooks. Just the way I used to imagine when we drove past that big old house.
And so, an idea was born and lurked in my imagination for years before the right story came along. That’s how ideas can sometimes happen for a writer.
Ann H. Gabhart has graciously offered to do a giveaway of her latest book, Murder is No Accident which is set in this house. Please leave a comment with your email info so we can contact you a week from today–next Friday, May 12, 2017.
ANN H. GABHART, the bestselling author of over thirty novels, has been called a storyteller. That’s not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. In addition to her popular Shaker novels, Ann writes about family life, love and now mystery (as A.H. Gabhart) in small towns like the Kentucky town where she grew up. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and enjoy country life in Kentucky. To find out more about Ann’s books and to check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, visit www.annhgabhart.com. You can also join in the conversation on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart or Twitter @AnnHGabhart.