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Friday, May 29, 2015

Ideas, Ideas—They’re Everywhere ~ By Robin Caroll

Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as RT Reviewer's Choice, Bookseller's Best, Holt Medallion, Carol Awards, and Book of the Year. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty-plus years, her three beautiful daughters, two precious grandsons, and their character-filled pets.

Ideas, Ideas—They’re Everywhere

I’m often asked how I get ideas for my books. I always want to answer, “Where don’t I get ideas?”

I get some fabulous character ideas by people watching. Now, my friends and family know I detest shopping. If I never had to walk into another mall in my life, I’d be happy. But with daughters and grandsons, that’s not gonna happen. Sigh.

So when forced to brave the elements of humanity (although, I seriously question this—have you ever seen women at a 75% off sale act really human?) and venture into stores or malls, I watch people. I study them. Yes, even been known to snap a picture of one with my cell phone because of a certain hairstyle, or quirk, or expression.

I travel a bit and usually have at least one layover. Perfect time to people-watch and record them when they’re tired, or stressed, or hungry, or disappointed, or everything. All of this information filters down and finds its way into a character.

Newspapers, television, and yes, even those true-crime shows all provide fodder for my plots. No, I don’t see something or read about it and then just change minor events for my story. I play a game called what-if.

For example, I’ll hear a story about a woman who shot her husband for having an affair. My mind starts the game: What if the woman had hired a private detective to get the “goods” on her husband? What if the private detective had a grudge against the husband for some wrong years ago? What if the man wasn’t having an affair, but the private detective made it look like he was, just so his wife would kill him? Oh, what if the woman didn’t even suspect her husband was having an affair, but this guy who had a grudge against the husband pretended to be a private detective and sent incriminating evidence to the wife? ... and so my mind goes. (Scary, I know)

I also get ideas from my own life. For instance, the germ of an idea for my Justice Seekers series came about due to a legal investigation my husband went through. I followed my research through court cases, trials, appeals, and sentencing, all the while observing how people acted and reacted.

Then I started playing What If again…what if an FBI agent lied on the stand and an innocent person was convicted? What if a person witnessed a murder, but had no choice but to run? And thus the first book of the series was born.

Ideas are everywhere, you just have to look for them. Now, back to my what-if game. What if a writer was on deadline? What if she kept playing on email and the internet instead of making her word count? What if ...


As a white water rafting guide, Katie Gallagher must battle the forces of nature on a daily basis. When sabotage becomes apparent on a weekend rafting trip, Katie must determine who she can trust—and who has their own agenda.


Hunter Malone has a mission on a business adventure trip on the Gauley River, a mission that didn’t include a spunky guide who could handle the class-five rapids better than he’d ever imagined. But can she handle the truth?

2 comments:

Richard Mabry said...

Robin, Yeah, I get that question all the time. I used to tell people I subscribe to a site called ideas.com, but found out later some were checking it out. I agree with you. Ideas are all around. And if I come up dry, I ask the question Alton Gansky taught me: "What If?"
Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Carrie Lynn Lewis said...

Robin,

We must have been separated at birth or something because I have the same problem (if a writer can really call it a problem). I see something or hear something and the "what if" part of my brain takes off. Unchecked, it rolls along like a runaway train and I eventually have ideas for not one novel, but a sequel or two. Maybe even a series that would take the rest of my life to write.

A car just passed the house with a dent in the fender. I wonder how that happened? What if....

Thanks for a fun post! I'm thrilled to discover I'm not the only one with a chronic case of whatifism.

Best wishes,

Carrie