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Where do you get your ideas?—Part 1

February 12, 2016

Have you ever gone to an author chat? I have. I’ve had a chance to meet such luminaries as Michael Connelly, Ridley Pearson, Earl Emerson and more and learned so much about the author’s life and work. Later, it was a highlight of my life to attend such an event as the featured author rather than a guest.

A popular question put to authors by members of the audience is “Where do you get your ideas?”

Ideas come at all hours of the day and night. I’ve awakened from a dream thinking, “That would make a great story.” I’ve been inspired by television commercials, billboards, my cats’ antics, or something that I witnessed in the supermarket. If episodes in my novels resonate with you it’s because they were sparked by familiar everyday events.

The King's Redress by Devorah FoxTake, for example, the various competitions in The King’s Redress, Book Three of The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam. Sure, the jousting was a bit exotic, but what about the melee a pied tournament?

About to begin was the first in a series of contests, the melee a pied. The fights conducted on foot were reminiscent of the clash between vanguards of attacking and defending infantrymen. Now two teams of knights stood opposite each other in the lists and waited restively and noisily for the herald’s cry to begin at which point they would rush together with a roar. Although clubs would smack and fists would fly, the object of the melee wasn’t to cause great bodily harm much less deliver any mortal blows, although tales were told of a knight whose helmet was hit so hard and so badly dented that he could not remove it without a blacksmith’s aid. Instead, the melee knights sought to capture as many opponents as possible. The captive would be held for ransom.

Facing off practically nose to nose against an opponent determined to wrestle one to the ground was a pale imitation of a battlefield confrontation. In war, infantrymen on the front lines knew they were about to race headlong into a battle to the death. Nevertheless, the melee a pied called for steady nerves and mettle.

Did that sound like something you’ve seen, perhaps on the big-screen TV or from a stadium seat? I’m not saying that American football got its beginnings during the Middle Ages, but maybe it won’t surprise you to learn that I wrote that scene during football season.

The out-of-control bonfire that causes so much havoc and destruction on the grounds of King Bewilliam’s Bell Castle was drawn from the tragic conflagration at Texas A&M.

In the coming months, I’ll share more of where I get the ideas for my stories.

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