Recently I answered a question at Goodreads about whether my stories were made up or real. The answer to that is ‘Yes, both.’
Obviously, the events that occur in my Historical Fiction are based on real events. Some readers of Historical Fiction are ruthless about their facts; others understand that it’s Historical Fiction and that novelists do their best to fill in the gaps. Back in the 14th century, they didn’t have YouTube or Facebook to record personal events, so there is a lot of guessing (the fictional element) on my part about what they may have said to each other or why they did what they did. One of these days maybe I’ll do a post entitled ‘Tweets and Texts from Edward II to Isabella’. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
But what about my contemporary series: the Faderville Novels and the Sam McNamee Mysteries? Short answer — the Faderville books are partly true and the Sam McNamee books are purely from my imagination. In Wilton, Indiana, where Sam lives, there are a lot of crazy characters who tend to run away with the storyline without me realizing it’s happening. I never know how those books are going to come out until I get to the end myself.
As for the Faderville books … I’m always keeping my eye out for stories on the news or in social media that say to me ‘Now that would make a good book!’ For instance, the ideas for Say That Again come from several sources. The inspiration for Hannah comes from this story about a 5-year-old named Iris Grace who is autistic and began painting masterful watercolors at an early age. The chapter about Hannah’s near drowning and miraculous recovery was derived from several tales of people being submerged in icy waters and making full recoveries. The idea for Hannah’s dog helping her overcome the communication problems of her autism? An abused and rescued dog named Xena (sorry — graphic pictures, so be forewarned if you click on this link). Then there were several stories about dogs saving their owners from wild animal attacks, including one that was directly relayed to me by a friend of a close friend. I keep all the links in a tidy folder entitled Story Ideas on my desktop. So, yes, bits and pieces come from real-life happenings.
Above is my dog Halo. She has never been kidnapped like the Halo from Say No More or navigated her way home from two states away, but in one day as a puppy she did leap from the deck stairs to give herself a limp, get tangled up in the drainage hose behind the washing machine, and swallow the cat’s toy mouse, which resulted in me having to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. That was one day. Nothing exciting enough to write a book about, but she does keep life interesting.