Writer-Talk Tuesday: Tell Me a Story (of how you came up with your story)
One of my favorite things to do around the time I have a book coming out is to tell “the story behind the story”—or my inspiration for where a particular character or storyline came from.
Here are the posts where I’ve told those stories:
Where Do Stories Come From? (a brief glimpse at the origin of Stand-In Groom)
With Stand-In Groom, I wanted to use Peter Wingfield, whom I’d fallen for in the role of Methos in the Highlander TV series, as a hero in a romance novel. I also wanted to use the plus-size supermodel Emme as a heroine. This was around the time that I’d seen the movie The Wedding Planner, which, even though Matthew McConaughey was quite cute in it, really turned me off because for the resolution of the romance to come about, it meant that an engaged couple had to be torn apart.
When I wrote the first draft of Stand-In Groom (Happy Endings, Inc., as it was then known), I needed to surround Anne with family—as an orphan, sticking close to her extended family would be important to her—and I wanted her to be best friends with a cousin about her age. Enter Meredith Guidry, who was not only her cousin and best friend, but her protege—Meredith worked as Anne’s assistant event planner when Anne worked for Meredith’s parents’ company, Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises, before Anne started her own business.
Before I ever had the idea for a story about a wedding planner falling in love, I had an idea that I might one day write a contemporary-set story loosely based on the storyline of Pride and Prejudice (this was around the same time I came up with the idea for the story that would become Love Remains, loosely based on Persuasion, but that’s a tale for another time).
The character of William Bush changed the dynamics of how things worked for dear Horatio. William is an older, more experienced character, with a reserve and caution Hornblower doesn’t (yet) possess. In fact, the character of Lt. Bush in the movie so intrigued me that I went out and bought the book upon which this duplex of movies is based, Lieutenant Hornblower. Imagine my surprise when I opened it to discover that it’s written from William Bush’s viewpoint!
. . . he was totally my “type”: very tall and built like a football player, attractive without being “gorgeous,” outgoing (yes, somewhat flirtatious), and still a somewhat old-fashioned gentleman. (In other ways, he totally wasn’t my type—but that’s not important to this story.) In talking to him as we went about getting him official his first day of work, I learned he’d been in the army. Not only that, he’d been stationed in New Mexico . . . and not just anywhere in New Mexico, but at White Sands Missile Range—during the last year my dad was there. And even though I was in the death-throes of trying to get that second novel finished, I remember the “what if” scenario popping into my head: what if I’d met him when I was seventeen and he was nineteen when we both lived out there. I even went home and wrote down a few ideas.
The only thing I know for certain is that the idea hinged on my character-development-crush on the guy who should have won season 2 of Top Chef, Sam Talbot.
Initially, when I came up with the idea back in February 2007, my working title was Cover Model. I even still have the idea writeup I did back on February 20, 2007, so that I wouldn’t lose the idea . . .
I needed a third story idea. I knew the heroine would be the third of the best friends. Because I was an editor who’d been laid off from my job less than a year before, I decided the heroine of this third book would be an editor who would get laid off her job and, in the end, have to choose between romance and a job offer in New York. Thus, I needed a hero who would also have to make that kind of decision—between romance and a high-profile job. So, since I worked in advertising/marketing for 13+ years before entering the publishing industry, I decided to make him an account executive at a large advertising firm.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us the story behind your story. How did you get the idea for the book you’re writing (or for one you’ve already finished or for one you want to write)?