Trivia Wednesday…Where Story Ideas Come From

So I had a bizarre encounter with my 91-year-old mom on Monday night. Well, early Tuesday morning. She’d taken the wrong mix of medications and was visiting other realms, so to speak. So I was trying to ask her questions and bring her back to the world the rest of us inhabit when she said, “You’re trying to make me think I’m crazy so you can write a book about it.”

Hm. Well, no. But….oh, wait, “Gaslight” has already been done. Many times, in many formats.

That’s not to say that seeds of reality don’t bounce around in authors’ heads and get reconfigured into elements of story.

So, here are 10 real-life things that have turned into major or minor story elements for me, in no order. See how many you already knew.

  1. The entire SENTINELS OF NEW ORLEANS series, particularly ROYAL STREET, was based on my own memories of being a New Orleanian moving back to the city from my evacuation spot very shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit.
  2. DJ’s evacuation spot for Katrina was the small Alabama cotton mill town of Winfield, Alabama, which is where I was born and spent my first 18 years.
  3. Winfield also served, in part, as a model for Penton, Alabama, in the PENTON LEGACY series. The real community of Penton is not a mill town (in fact, it has one restaurant and a motor speedway and a church), but that area of east Alabama was very invested in textiles and was financially devastated when the textile industry moved overseas. So Penton is a mashup of Winfield, the Chambers County seat of LaFayette  (accent on FAY), and Penton.
  4. Penton and nearby LaFayette are about 25 miles from where I live now. I decided on the location by looking at a map of the state and looking for the most isolated spot I could find. And there it was.
  5. Most of the characters in LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP are named after my and my friends’ pets. My terrier Shane became the hero, Shane Burke, and my rottie/chow/golden mix Tanker played himself.
  6. I was writing DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD about the time I discovered mixed-media art and learned how to make my own art journals, which is how hero Brody became a reclusive artist….who made his own journals.
  7. A couple of years ago, a shipwreck of a possible pirate schooner off the coast of Mobile, Alabama, became (duh) the inspiration for PIRATESHIP DOWN. Because I figure if one of Jean Lafitte’s lost ships was found, he’d want a piece of that, oui?
  8. The BLACK DIAMOND drug of the same name was inspired by the so-called “zombie drug” called Flakka that has been such a problem in south Florida and was all over the news a year or so ago. Superhuman strength, sense of invincibility, batshit crazy. Check, check, check.
  9. The standalone short, CHENOIRE, was originally written for this blog and was set in the Sentinels of New Orleans world. The lead character in the original story was merman Rene Delachaise.
  10. I don’t write more short fiction because my editor for the first four Sentinels books told me I had no talent for it and “some people aren’t meant to write short stories.” That was the response to the story “JACKSON SQUARE.” Which I might still publish just as a nice little F-U.

Learn anything new?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

6 thoughts on “Trivia Wednesday…Where Story Ideas Come From

  1. So you don’t have that editor from the Sentinels books any longer = So publish more short stories??? Booked!, Santa Baby, Jackson Square, Nix That, This Masquerade, Playing with a Full Deck, I Yam What I Yam, Bat Out of Hell, Grecian Holiday, A Pirate Takes a Roadtrip, and Two Pirates of the Caribbean would make a very nice short story collection in paperback.

  2. What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing the inspiration for some of your story elements. I have enjoyed everything you have published, whether it was a short story or full length novel.

  3. Definitely want you to publish those short stories! Always enjoy learning the details of your books.

  4. i loved your short story and yes a collection of them with some new ones would be fabulous YOU HAVE TALENT don’t ever let anyone tell you the opposite