Besides the most common questions asked of me as a writer, namely, “How do you write a book?” and “Do you want to write about my life?” (yes, that is asked repeatedly), the next most common question is, “Where do you get your ideas for the books?”
I have to say that most times, something around me piques my interest and gets my mind going in a game of “What would happen if . . .”
A lot of the times that happens when I’m traveling, like my recent trip to Mexico! While strolling around Tlaquepaque after the meetings were done, my colleague and I were treated to a wonderful historic center which boasted two beautiful churches, a lovely square filled with all kinds of vendors and lined by restaurants featuring dueling mariachi bands.
As we strolled, I noticed some postcards with an odd winged figure and some other things that mentioned the CHAMUCOS. Hmm . . . Winged and scary looking? Right up my alley.
I did a little research now that I got home. Apparently EL CHAMUCO is another name of the devil. Maybe I could eventually spin that into a story, maybe not. But it sure had my mind going for a bit.
A few years ago I got to visit Panama during a legal conference and the highlight of the trip was going through several locks of the Panama Canal. I spent some time chilling with friends who were native Panamanians and listened to the fervor in their voices as they described the stories about how the Canal was built. The failure of the French and the Americans who came in to finish it.
Got me to thinking of the hardships to build the canal and the hubris as well. We need to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific so let’s just cut right through a country!!
But back to the birth of an idea for a novel. Lovely Panamanian woman, of high birth. Earnest and handsome American engineer who has come to work on the project. Probably a military man as well. Way sexy. We’ve got cultural differences. Malaria. The dangerous work of cutting out jungle and rock to build the Canal. Hmm . . . Now that I could work into a story!!
Needless to say, my friends helped me pick out a number of good books on the history of the Canal and combined with their wonderful tales, I hope that one day I’ll find the time to do such a story.
So, if you’ve been wondering how an idea for a book is born, there it is!