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.
That looks like a cool house to explore. I think I’d be tempted to take up writing in that window seat, too. jlytranch at hotmail dot com.
I got to go in the house a couple of times in the last few years, JJ, but never when it was in its prime. My sister and I went on a ghost walk that ended in that house. The ghosthunters claimed all sorts of spooky things, but my sister and I, we just laughed. And I did used to want a window seat in the worst way, but when I got older I decided a comfy chair by a window might be even better.
I love Ann’s books. Looking forward to reading her newest one.
Thanks so much, Barb. I appreciate you reading my books. Good luck in the drawing for this one.
I love old houses with all the nooks and crannies they have. I think it would be a great place to write a book, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading “Murder is No Accident” yet, but I hope to soon!
Connie, I agree that old houses have a lot of personality to maybe inspire the imagination, but it’s also easy to imagine murders there. LOL. I hope when you get a chance to read Murder Is No Accident, that you’ll enjoy the story.
It was very interesting to learn where Ann gets some of her ideas for her books. It’s her great imagination and creativity that can take ordinary situations or things and weave them into such wonderful stories that just keep us wanting more.
I’ve always thought it would be amazing to take an old home and bring it back to it’s glory. And it is so true – that if walls could talk what all would they have to say? :)
Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Murder is No Accident !
Sorry I forgot to add email – 2clowns (at) arkansas (dot) net
Kay, we might all live a little differently if we thought our walls were going to tell on us. :) I suppose the murderer in my book would for sure!! Glad you found my post about how I get ideas interesting, and I hope you’ll enjoy the stories I weave together in the future. Weaving together a story is a good way to describe the process. You have to make everything work together to keep the story flowing.
How fantastic that you were able to write a story based on the tower room of a house that you once loved..glad to hear where some of your ideas come from and get creative inside your head..would love to have a change to win this book..thanks for the chance..
Thanks for dropping by, Rory. Always fun to see your comments. Glad you liked me exploring my way of getting ideas. Good luck in the drawing.
I love the idea of that old house with a tower room. Always thought that I’d love a house like that. Looking forward to reading this.
Hi, Ola. Always fun to see your comments on my blog posts. I’ve always thought old houses were neat too, but then I think about all the work some of them need to fix them up. First off, I’d like it to be warm and sometimes that’s where old houses struggle the most. LOL. Guess that comes from me growing up in an old farm house where the wind could sometimes sweep under the house and lift up the rug.
Love old houses,such mystery about them.Love your books!
Right, Nancy, the mystery. I wanted that old house to be practically another character with mystery in its every creak and groan. Thanks so much for reading my books! That makes me smile.
I enjoyed how you get ideas, I’m new and I want to read all your books just from your blog here. I grew up in a old house that was original to my family and the stories were amazing from a hundred years ago and on. My mom and grand ma told me so many! Thanks for sharing.
Hi, Donamae. Those family stories are the best. Glad you liked the post.
Thanks for sharing! I’ve always wondered where authors get their ideas!
Well, every author is different, Nicole, but I suppose we all have our creative moments. That is one of the questions I get more than any other. Where do you get your ideas? I just hope I keep getting some to make my stories work.
Looking forward to reading Ann’s latest book!
Thanks, Carol. I appreciate that.
There is a good deal of local history here in this part of our state. The old James River Turnpike runs through the edge of our neighborhood. At one time there was a stagecoach stop here. Close to it there was a large plantation. On that plantation was a beautiful old home that had a separate carriage house. It was a beautiful estate owned by a large well-known family. On a few occasions I visited the home I always wondered about the people who lived there in the early 1800s. Where did they come from, why did they come here, why did they pick this particular spot for their home? Yes, if only the walls could talk, what would they tell us? Questions like these constantly come to me when I am doing genealogy research. Part of my family traveled this same old road from across the mountains in the early 1830s to settle here just a short distance from where I live. Why? What made them decide to leave their home there to come here? These are the questions I would love to create stories about. If I were a writer, this is what I would write.
I love your books and am glad for a chance to be blessed with a free copy of “Murder is No Accident.”