I started a new book this week and as usual, someone asked me where I come up with my ideas. Do I take them from normal life? Or suggestions from other people? Magazine articles, newspaper stories? The truth is I don’t know where my ideas come from. All of a sudden they’re just there. I want to create a clinic in Peru because I know that a certain parasite in Peru can invade the heart and cause bad problems. Or I want to write one in Hawaii about a doctor who’s basically a beachcomber. My inspiration for the Duets that will be out in July was literally a few shanties I saw deep in the New Orleans bayou. My first thought was, “I wonder how they get services.” My second was, “What about medical emergencies?” Sure, that’s not much to go on, but it got me four books, with the possibility of three more after that.
The truth is, my ideas come from observation as much as they come straight from my head. I’ll admit that I do collect names. In both books I have out in July – A Home for the Hot Shot Doc and A Doctor’s Confession I used my personal doctor’s nurse’s mother and daughter’s name because it was unusual and beautiful – Xenobia. She’ll actually appear in the rest of the books of this series. Is the character like the real Xenobia? I have no way of knowing because I’ve never met the real Xenobia or her name-sake granddaughter, but my Xenobia is a strong lady who runs a New Orleans medical center. From there I have enough to carry her through anywhere from four to seven books.
So how do I put a book in order? For me, setting comes first because setting can drive a character. And from my settings come my characters, who are a natural extension of the setting. After that, I figure out how my characters come together, then it’s just a matter of getting to the part that keeps them together. Simple? Not really. But for me, that’s the process. I don’t seek out story ideas because they usually find me, and I certainly don’t seek out characters as they flow naturally from the effort I’ve already put in. Want a down and out doc who worked his way through med school in construction – read A Doctor’s Confession and discover the way he swings a hammer is still pretty nice to watch. Want a doc who doesn’t want to give up his plush surgical lifestyle? Read A Home for the Hot Shot Doc and see him fall in love with the gal won’t leave the bayou for any reason. And definitely be on the lookout for Xenobia. She’s pretty exacting.
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As always, wishing you health and happiness!