Writing Wednesday–The Care and Feeding of a New Book Idea

One of the questions I get a lot is where my ideas come from, and there’s not any real answer other than: I throw a lot of crap at the wall until something starts to stick. Then I keep throwing new crap at that already-stuck crap until more sticks. Once there’s enough crap on the wall to start looking like a story with legs,  I scrape it off and start researching.

Take my current work in progress. I don’t want to talk about it too much yet (jinx!), but I will say the heroine’s name is Lillie Morgan, and she was born a werewolf but has additional abilities that make her anathema to all other shifters. {Isn’t “anathema” a great word? I need to use it more often.]

So in the research phase for this particular book, I had to come up with a place for Lillie and her quasi-community to live. I wanted a place rural enough for shapeshifters to be attracted to it but not so rural that there are no non-shifters to interact. I started out looking at a town named Helen, Georgia, which is built to be a Bavarian village set in the middle of the mountains of North Georgia. Yeah, weird, right? I decided not to use Helen specifically, but an imaginary town in the southern Blue Ridge area that is somewhat based on Helen.  I’m still in the research phase of setting, so that could change, but I’m getting pretty specific now, which means I’ve studied enough maps for my eyes to cross and am not venturing far from that area.

Next, I need to know my characters pretty well before I can start writing. My lead male character’s name is Beck Jarrett, and I know a little about Beck so far but not much. Since I’m so focused on Lillie, I’m pretty sure at this point that this book is going to be urban fantasy with romantic elements (a la Sentinels, only more serious) rather than paranormal romance. So Lillie is getting most of my thinking time right now.

The next thing I had to decide about Lillie once I figured out what her special abilities are is: WHY does she have them? What’s so different about her? What are the repercussions of that thing that makes her different? My answer finally settled on her difference being due to a genetic abnormality that appears in about 4-5 percent of humans and lesser numbers in animals: albinism.

That helps me know what Lillie is going to look like, right? So if you’re curious as to where my thoughts are going for both Lillie and Beck (who’s obviously going to be played by Justice Joslin in the movie version–LOL), visit my Pinterest inspiration page for GIRL IN THE GLASS CAGE, which is, yes, the working title but will likely change.

Stay tuned as the work progresses!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

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