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People. Places & Things that Inspire Me

One of the most frequent questions I get asked about being a writer is 'Where do you get your ideas?'

The answer is complicated. The idea for Jack In A Box came from my husband looking at an actual Jack In A Box and commenting that it would make a good title for a book. Then something fired in my head, and the basic premise took shape. Sally In The Woods came from driving through a place called Sally In The Wood and the concept appeared in my mind.

I'm making writing a book sound simple - which it's really not. These initial concepts are like an earworm, the idea gets stuck in my brain as I slowly begin to flesh it out and decide if it has book potential.

But I'm also inspired by a multitude of other things, I'll hear someone speak or see them behave in a certain way and squirrel it away for use at a later date. I once saw a man drinking from a proper china cup and saucer in the passengers seat of a builders van - whilst it was being driven. The randomness of that appeals to me, so don't be surprised if you one day read about a character doing that.

On Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) I was seeing in the bells and watching the tv when the thought of Rowan doing the same thing, but in a village pub somewhere with a live band appeared in my mind, that thought along with the phrase 'He'd been dead a long time' have been stuck in my brain ever since. And now I'm thinking this will be the spring board for Rowan book 5. I've wanted to find a way to take Rowan to the North West of Scotland for a while and maybe this idea will provide the ability to do that.

When I was away in my camper van in the summer we went to a little village that had this boarded up house and in one of the window frames was this elaborate oval mirror. I took lots of photos, because I knew this would one day feature in a book. There's also a very cool mausoleum not far from where I live, it sits at the edge of a small woods between two streets of very regular houses. It's location is one of the things that makes it interesting, the building itself is very special.

I recently watched a series of programs on BBCiPlayer called Expert Witness and I found them fascinating, one of the great things about programs like these is they give me an insight into scientific practices and this allows me to consider how they can be used in my books. Two areas that I find particularly of interest are forensic linguistics and entomology.

The thing with ideas is they come from everywhere and nowhere. When I was young I thought that everybody's minds worked like mine, it was a shock when I discovered most people don't overhear a phrase and then spend hours building a scenario around it.

I believe there is an abundance of ideas out there, so many in fact I doubt I have enough life time to use them all up, but I'm going to give it ago.


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