It Starts

“Where do you get your ideas?”

Every author dreads this question. From conversation I get the impression that most authors dread it because the answer is too complicated. Don’t get me wrong. If I’m fresh out of edits or, God forbid, just finished writing the first draft, then yes, the answer is complicated. The male lead is 10% this guy I dated in college and 30% someone else and the balance is made up from snips of conversations and inspiration (that occasionally surprises me.) The female lead is the same stew of character traits and guesswork. The plot starts someplace logical and then usually takes off like a fire hose on full power with just little old me hanging on for dear life. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I have no idea what’s going to happen from paragraph to paragraph in the story I’m writing.

However, I love learning the connections between things. One of my very favorite shows ever is James Burke’s Connections (the first series more than the second.) I love knowing how things connect. This series came about more or less because I wanted to know how things connected. How did these men in this band work together? Where did they come from? Thus the series was born.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m supposed to be talking about the origin of this book and these two people.

I wrote the first book in the series first. Had it published even. While I was working through the edits I started thinking about the other guys. No, that’s not right. It didn’t start there.

It started when I was in college sitting through boring required liberal arts classes. I had two choices: write or pick at my split ends. Not that I didn’t find things in the class interesting, but it was a huge lecture hall with a professor droning on at the front at a pace better suited to the very slowest student in the room. So I started writing in the margins of my notebooks. (Does that tell you how long ago it was? Notebooks.) I would write in tiny cramped print, two lines of text per line of margin, the thrilling adventures of Jason Callisto and his best friend and bass player, Brian Ellis. The drummer’s name was Bear. The keyboardist’s name was Leo and the singer had no name because he wasn’t especially important. I filled the margins of many notebooks.

Years pass.

I write and publish a couple of books under another name. They’re good. Well reviewed, solid books. My heart was in them. But I needed to branch out and my boys were always there. I also decided I needed to practice writing sex scenes. Don’t laugh. It’s very difficult!

Who better to practice sex scenes on than a rock star? So I wrote the second book in the series. It was published by another house under a different title and during the editing phase I was thinking about the characters. Specifically I started thinking about what the circumstances would have to be for Bear to have dumped a Coke over Jason’s head during the tour. What kind of person resorts to that instead of punching him or retaliating in some other way?

The band members were sitting around the dinner table talking after Jason and Cassie got together and someone asked, “How did you meet Maureen, anyway?” What, you thought the characters stopped when the book ended? No, mon ami, they are there, going about their lives in my head as long as we all shall live. So somebody asked and Bear answered, “Her brakes were squeaking and she brought the car into my brother’s garage to get them fixed.”

And there it was. The origin of Satellite Of Love, and the origin of Drawn To the Rhythm.

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