Inspiration Everywhere


First off, I’d like to thank the Powers That Be at Romance Junkies for inviting me here. Second, I’d like to thank all the junkies out there for making it possible to write romance. Without you, my inspirations would have nowhere to go!

Which brings me to my topic today: where the !@# do we authors get our ideas?

That’s one of the most popular questions people ask me. I not only get it from readers at speaking engagements, I get it from relatives at family celebrations.

Truth is, inspiration is everywhere. My last book, One Deadly Sin, started with a tourist book of the Midwest. Some of you may say…tourist? Midwest? Turns out there are plenty of interesting places in the heartland, and one in particular struck me: the legend of the black angel from Oakland cemetery in Iowa City.

Mind you, I wasn’t looking for inspiration. I was thumbing through a book at my brother’s house, waiting for dinner to be served. But there it was,  the story of a man buried in a grave, a man who may or may not be guilty of a crime. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. That little item formed the nugget around which the  whole book was built. And, I’m proud to say, it’s just been nominated for an RT Reader’s Choice Award! 

People can also start me thinking about books. I have a friend who is an Orientation and Mobility instructor at the Tennessee School for the Blind. As she puts it, “I teach blind kids to run in the streets.” Her work always fascinated me, and I wanted to learn more. I began exploring the idea of a blind cop, and that ended up being my fourth book, Blind Curve. While writing it, I kept thinking about the lyrics to an old Youngbloods song: “Darkness, darkness, be my pillow.” That image–of sinking into the darkness, the physical darkness of the blind, the darkness of despair and hopelessness–helped infuse the story.

My RITA-winning book, Blackout, was inspired by a character in a TV show. Or, I should say, several characters: Aeryn Sun from Farscape, Zoe Washburne from Firefly, and from the Terminator, Sarah Connor. I love those tough, take-no-prisoners women and wanted to write about someone who could share their world. The heroine of Blackout can’t remember exactly who she is, but when it comes to defending herself–with fists, knife, or gun–she’s an expert.

Truth is, inspiration can come when I least expect it and from the oddest places.It could be something as ordinary as making dinner or an exotic trip to Fiji. Either way, I never know who–or what–might start the next story rolling.

But that’s me. How about you? What are your inspirations?

25 Responses to Inspiration Everywhere


    If you are headed out on a less organised getaway, present your contact
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  2. abercrombie fitch coupon code

    Great ghoulish post … extremely fitting for the season and impressivly damn intriguing. quite a few thanks for sharing!Possess a wonderful day, Brown

  3. Eva S

    Great post! I don’t write, but I love reading about inspirations, it’s more interesting to read the books!

  4. Anna Shah Hoque

    Hey Annie,
    I loved One Deadly Sin! It was a total page turner and I couldn’t put it down once I started it…I kept reading until I finally finished it. I’m blown away by how authors take a kernel of an idea and turn it into a detailed story…it’s magic to me.

    Happy Holidays

  5. catslady

    I’ve never asked an author where they get their ideas lol. I think the more important question is how do you change a fleeting idea or a circumstance into a book!!! Obviously that’s what makes an author – you seem to be able to make something out of nothing 🙂 Your book sounds wonderful.

  6. Joyce

    I don’t write but I love strong women heroines.

  7. Chris Mead

    Hi Annie,

    Congrats on your RT nomination that is so awesome. I am not writer so I can’t really comment about where I get inspiration from. I do however have your book awaiting me in my TBR pile and I can’t wait to read it , it sounds like a great story!

    Best wishes,


  8. Toria Dunford

    I love to read about other writers’ inspiration, too. Mine comes from all over the place – the news, my dreams, my personal history, random thoughts floating through my head while I’m driving around town. Since I write paranormal, I find inspiration through myth and folklore, too.

    I’m definitely going to have to get your books. I love spooky graveyard stories and the idea of a man wrongly convicted. And congrats on your RT nomination!


  9. Ashley A

    Thanks for blogging here with us!! I think my inspiration comes from lots of places. Sometimes its just a phrase I hear on tv, or a song, maybe even the weather-which sounds silly I know, but we just had a blizzard, and that had me thinking of what would happen if a heroine or hero was snowed in with a werewolf, vampire, shifter, etc 🙂

  10. Missy Lyons

    I LOVE reading about an authors inspiration and finding out about how they got the ideas for the book. One Deadly Sin shows all that extra effort and work you put into researching it. It was super fun to read!

    My inspiration comes from everywhere, from the music I listen to, to my covert people watching skills I use at Starbucks. lol

  11. susan leech

    Annie. your post always holds some great news and this one was no exception. Glad to be here and to say hello. susan L.

  12. Guestauthor

    I often get inspired by news stories, too, Kim, but somehow none of those stories ever ended up becoming one of my books. And I use people I know as well. But I don’t think they read my books, so they have no idea!!!

  13. Guestauthor

    I agree about the news, Linda. Lots of weirdness in real life, that’s for sure.

  14. Kim Law

    Hey, Annie. Congrats on the RT nomination!!!! You’re books are so awesome, this comes as no shock.

    My ideas often come from news stories I see or from flipping through a magazine and some little nugget just catches my attention. I also use people at work. And yes, they’ve caught on to my using them! I’ll say something like “I’m thinking of setting a book [here]” and in the conversation that follows, sometimes the oddest little pieces of unique info comes from my friends about that place and I’ll just on it and run with the idea.

  15. Linda Henderson

    I’m not a writer, but there is so much weirdness on the news anymore a person could probably get an idea from there.

  16. Guestauthor

    Thanks all for the congrats. And for stopping by.

    Mary, I’m beginning to see a theme in your inspirations–tragedy does it for you!

    Lara, I can’t think of a better beginning than a high school reunion. Hmm…maybe that’s why I’ve never been to any?

    Trish, I’m with you on the song thing. Songs are often like little stories and they can set me off into bookland, too.

    I love that a T-shirt did it for you, Rae Ann. Hasn’t happened to me yet, but ‘m sure it will one day!

    Lisa, you’re so lucky to have dreams to go by. I hardly ever remember my dreams. I heard a story somewhere that Twilight started as a dream. You’re in good company!

  17. Lisa G

    Hi Annie! Congratulations on your nomination, that’s so great!
    My inspirations come from conversations with friends, thoughts, visions, people I see on the street or in a mall. My best ideas do come to me when I sleep in dreams. I keep a pen and paper by my bed to write them down either if they wake me up or first thing in the morning. 🙂

  18. Rae Ann Parker

    Hi Annie. Congratulations on your RT award nomination. You deserve it. One Deadly Sin is a fabulous book.

    Inspiration is definitely everywhere. My current WIP idea came from a t-shirt a friend was wearing (which happened to have a song title on it). I also get inspiration from news stories and places I visit that beg to be a book setting.

  19. Trish Milburn

    Hey, Annie. Congrats on that well-deserved RT award nom!

    I seem to constantly get story ideas from everywhere. Even titles. This week, I was struggling to finish up a trilogy proposal, and I just couldn’t think of what to title the books. Then I happened to be walking through the den when the hubby was watching a movie. One of the characters was singing a song that made a light bulb go off in my head, and from there I was able to come up with the three titles I needed. Very cool when that happens.

  20. Lara

    My storylines come from all over the place. The first book I wrote the idea came from a question. I was at a reunion and some asked that age old question – “Whatever happened to him?” I’m sure “him” wouldn’t like my take…but with that statement my mind whirled into a vortex of disturbing ideas and a story formed. You never know where the next story idea is going to come from but if your open to it a “statement” might take you somewhere fantastic and – in my case – bone chilling.

    Great article Annie!

  21. Marie-Nicole Ryan

    Yippee! I now know who Zoe Washburn from Farscape is and of course, Sara Connor.

    Okay, that aside, my inspirations come from some of the least likely places. For example, the TV news mention of two young sisters who survive a plane crash that killed their parents. I haven’t written that story yet, but it’s still in my future story folder. Another time I saw the story of a blended family on Extreme Home Makeover where the siblings had to pull together after their parents were killed. I’ve written the first in that series, Love Me If You Can. I started the story ten years after their parents’ death and each one of the siblings will have his or her own book. The family runs a PI agency, so there are still stories to be told.

    Too Good to be True was inspired by an actual incident in TN–a sheriff shot in his driveway. The story centered on his Metro police detective daughter coming home and taking over as sheriff in order to find his killer.

    Inspiration is everywhere, and I loved what you did with the Black Angel inspiration. Great story, Annie.

  22. Guestauthor

    Thanks, Phyllis. And what a cool story! I love that annoyance led you on…

  23. Guestauthor

    Thanks, Bente. And yes, I agree–knowing which idea to focus on is the trick. But sometimes I don’t know until I start working on it. And anything that you keep going back to is something that will probably stick.

  24. Phyllis

    Like you said, inspiration comes where you least expect it.

    One of my heroines came from having lunch with my sister-in-law. My adult nephews called throughout asking her to run errands for them. Who would have thought my annoyance would have lead to a pretty good story?

    And big congrats on your RT nomination!!!!!

  25. Bente Gallagher

    Way to go, Annie! Great post, and huge congrats on your RT nomination! That’s awesome, and well deserved, too.

    Yeah, I get asked the same question a lot, where do ideas come from. The truth is, they’re out there by the handfuls, ready to be scooped up; the trick is picking the one that you want to work on for three or four or six months and leaving the rest on the table.

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