Where do you get your ideas?
When I tell people I write novels, one of the first questions I’m asked is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’
With my February release, ‘Irish Inheritance’, I have no problem in pinpointing where the original idea came from. About three years ago, I found an article online about a Paris apartment that had been abandoned in 1939, when the owner fled to the south of France on the outbreak of war. She continued to pay the rent, but never returned to the apartment. When she died, in her nineties, in 2010, the executors of her will entered the apartment – and stepped back in time. The apartment, under a thick layer of dust, was exactly as it had been left seventy years earlier, with beautiful furniture dating from the late 19th century, and other personal items. The most stunning item was a portrait – and research eventually proved this to be the owner’s grandmother, a French actress. It was painted by an Italian artist in 1898, and a love note found in the apartment suggested he had been having an affair with the actress.
That article provided the seed from which my story eventually germinated – but, of course, a single idea does not create a story. Many more ideas followed, as I thought about how I could develop this. These tend to be the ‘what if…?’ questions that go through my mind, and the original seed gradually produces roots, and eventually the first shoots appear as the story starts to evolve.
In ‘Irish Inheritance’, I actually had two stories to think about. First of all, the 19th century couple – who were they, why were they living in Ireland, what happened to them? And then the modern story. As I write romances, I decided a young couple would inherit the house jointly, but I had similar questions to ask – who were they, what were their jobs, what happened when they inherited the house?
Ideas sprout in all directions and at times it feels as if the ‘seed’ is turning into a straggly weed - but you prune away the suckers and train the shoots into some kind of order. That’s probably the point at which I start writing the story. I don’t plot it all in advance, but tend to know how it begins, and also have some vague (often very vague!) idea about where it will go.
I rely on more ideas to occur to me as I get to know my characters, because sometimes those characters have their own ideas! I could give you countless examples of this in ‘Irish Inheritance’ (and in my other novels too).
So, in answer to the original question about where I get the ideas for my novels, I really don’t know why something I see or read can strike a chord in my mind and refuse to leave me alone! I only know it happens, and then my mind takes over and creates the characters, and eventually the story.
Blurb for ‘Irish Inheritance’:
English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered as ‘family’, they discover some surprising links to the original owners of the house.
With the help of local descendants, they unravel an intriguing tale of a nineteenth century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, even though they each have personal reasons for not wanting any romantic involvement at this point in their lives.
Problems arise when a local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house. Other events pull them back to their separate lives in London and America, and friction builds between them over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart — or bring them together?
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/KtlU6Y