I don’t know about other authors, but my ideas (for nonfiction as well as for fiction) have always come from life experiences, my interests, my curiosities, things I know, things I want to know more about, and my desire to teach and give back.
When readers tell me how much they enjoy the characters in my book—how when they read one of my stories they feel as though they’re spending time with old friends—that thrills me. Some say they’d like to sit down over coffee with some of my characters. Some say they’ve learned more about relationships by reading my Klepto Cat Mysteries. When I hear/read statements like these I am beyond thrilled. What better compliment can you get than that your characters come across as real and that people actually develop an emotional connection to them?
I’ve had some interesting experiences related to my own emotions during the writing process with the Klepto Cat Mysteries. There are some scenes in some of the books that I cannot read or edit without choking up and sometimes actually weeping.
There are times when I hesitate putting one of the cats in a dangerous situation. I can’t bear to write a scene where the cat is suffering or frightened. How do I work through this? I talk myself through the decision—promising a happy and safe ending. You must have conflict and suspense in a story in order to hold the interest of the reader. It’s essential, but sometimes it’s hard on the author. I don’t want to see a favorite character or an animal suffering. If I devise that happy ending to look forward too, then I’m able to write that scenario. Am I too attached to my characters? Perhaps. Is that wrong? I don’t know—it’s just how it is for me. Maybe it’s my emotions that make for a better story. This concept is not something I’ve explored with my author friends.
The biggest question people have for me—since I’ve produced 51 books in the Klepto Cat Mystery series and have two more in the works as we speak—is how do you come up with the story ideas? I mean it’s one thing to devise and imagine a scenario—but an entire book? 51 totally different storylines? Yeah, I can’t explain that either, anymore than someone can explain why they’re psychic, athletic, poetic, nurturing, artistic… It’s how my brain works, I guess—how I’m wired. And I’m positive that my many years writing articles for magazines has helped with that. Think about how elastic your thought process has to be in order to stretch to the limits that my Klepto Cat Mysteries encompass. All I can say is it’s my super power.