Friday, May 17, 2013


Shoppers, tired of malls packed with teenagers, peruse mail order catalogues for clothes, household items, and gifts. In spring, gardeners stop looking at seed catalogs and wander through nurseries. Where do writers shop for ideas?

My inspirations for fiction is real science.
Old habits are hard to break. So even though I’m no longer an active scientist, I continue to scan articles in science journals. When I read how a few mutations (changes) could turn a bird flu virus into one that can infect humans, I knew that I had the basis for a medical thriller. Then I read John Barry’s account of the 1918 flu pandemic The Great Influenza. The statistics were staggering – more than 50 million people died of flu during 1918-20. Coming Flu, a medical thriller, reflects my answer to the question: What if a new, unstoppable flu virus hit a community like mine?

You’re probably thinking I’m pretty strange.

The inspiration for my second novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight is less academic. Like everyone, I see many endorsements of weight loss regimes and products on TV. The sizes of some of the servings of food in these promotions make even small salad plates look large. I’ve tasted some of those advertised “delicious” shakes; they made me nauseous. It appears promoters of new diets will say anything to promote their diets and products. In my medical mystery Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, readers get to see how desperate diet doctors can be. Could they become murderers?

I like to travel, especially to locations a bit off the beaten path. As I was sorting through cheap souvenirs and postcards from a trip to South America, I spied items from Bolivia, which are becoming the basis of my third novel. What are they? If I tell you, it’ll ruin the surprise

Where could you find ideas for your writing?
Several authors have created cozy mystery series, based on their hobbies (such as cooking and quilting) or their pets. Others find travel to exotic location is a source of ideas and tax write-offs. But you don’t have to travel far for ideas. Have you ever wandered down a street in an old section of your home town and wondered what happened behind those facades last year, ten years ago, or even a century ago?

To create funny characters, surf through blogs on the web. Find three competing bloggers and let the mayhem begin. Please don’t choose me.

The trick to successful shopping is to find ideas that fit you. 
 Bug thinks Pet Smart is a great place to shop. Come to think of it, you do hear some odd (one-sided) conversations between pets and their owners at pet stores.