I seem to do my best work when I’m under stress. The idea for “Charmed & Dangerous” came about under extreme duress. I had a meeting the next day with an editor and one of my dearest friends told me I needed to pitch more than one book. I came up with the idea for “C&D” the night before that meeting, but it was an idea that had been rolling around in my head for a
long time.

I’ve been fascinated with witches in film and television for years and I especially liked Joss Whedon’s Willow on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I always wondered what would happen if you could mix the power of Willow with the kick-butt talent of Buffy.

So I created Bronwyn, who in my head looks like Kate Beckinsale in “Underworld,” sans the leather. I wanted my witch to be one of the most powerful people on the planet and at the same time have a tough time with relationships. I wanted her to be very international and also love being at home in her West Texas town. I wanted her tough enough to blow someone up, and emotionally vulnerable when it came to love.

It’s funny when I look back on that book and see how influenced I was by things going on around me. The elderly gentleman, Mr. G., with Alzheimer’s, was my way of dealing with the recent death of my grandmother. Sheik Azir came from wanting to show a different type of Middle Eastern character than we had seen before. The Prime Minister, for me, is the perfect leader. He’s strong, yet compassionate and always on top of his game. And I shouldn’t say it, but Dr. Sam was influenced by the early days of “ER.” He’s kind of an amalgamation of George Clooney and Anthony Edwards, but he looks like Hugh Dancy.

And the idea to write the book in journal form came from me wanting to look back on this young witch’s life. Her voice was so strong in my head and I just wrote down what she had to say. She’s still telling me what to write. I’m working on the third book now, and the second book hits the shelves in September. I’m not really sure how Bronwyn, specifically came into my head, but I’m really happy she showed up to play. It’s been a blast.

Look for Charmed and Dangerous, in bookstores now, and Charmed and Ready, coming September 2006



Penguin NAL and Onyx Books, 2004

The premise: Dead bodies aren’t staying dead.

Turn on the news and there’s another story about somebody waking up in an autopsy suite just as the Y incision begins. That was the trigger for PLAY DEAD.

The David Gould character bounced around in my head for years. I liked the idea of someone dealing with life and death issues on the job while personally trying to keep from falling apart. A character whose reckless malaise hides a tragic past. This book seemed a good place to finally put him. His partner, Homicide Detective Elise Sandburg, came about in a totally different way. She’s an example of how research sometimes drives the plot, and how it can even help develop
characters. I had a vague idea of who she was, but it wasn't until I started doing in-depth research that she solidified and I came up with the plan to make her the daughter of a famous root doctor. From the beginning I knew she'd been abandoned in a cemetery as an infant, but
everything else about her came from researching Gullah culture.

I wanted the plot to involve voodoo, but New Orleans seemed too obvious. I settled on Savannah. In researching the area I discovered that a fairly small region of South Carolina and Georgia was home to a group of people called Gullah -- African-Americans whose ancestors had
been brought over on slave ships from the southwest coast of Africa. This coastal Atlantic Ocean Lowcountry is made up of hundreds of small islands. It's a world of water and flat marshland, shanties, and sandy lanes leading into dark vegetation. Weathered churches, and desolate cemeteries. Gullah culture is embedded in the belief of herbalism, spiritualism, and black magic. While other regions call it voodoo, ubia, etc. the Gullah call it the root, and practitioners are called root doctors.

Back in the eighties I found myself fascinated by Wade Davis' book THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. In his search for the poison used to create zombies, his journey eventually led him to the puffer fish and tetrodotoxin. Davis discovered that many of the zombies had committed crimes previous to their zombification, and their new, lobotomized state was much cheaper than incarceration. Creating zombies was also something witch doctors did in order to prove their power and to gain status. The practitioner would use a concoction to secretly put the victim in a state that mimicked death, then dig up the "body" in the middle of the night, bringing it back from the dead.

It's also interesting to note that tetrodotoxin is a powerful painkiller, and has recently moved into a second phase of clinical trials in Canada.

I recall reading an article stating that scientists hope to one-day use TTX to put astronauts in the state of suspended animation for deep pace travel.

Eating of puffer fish is big in Japan. 100 - 200 people die from it a year. I came across an article claiming that macho guys like the risk, but they also get a pleasant buzz from the toxin. I just took that another step. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll hear of TTX being used recreationally.
I spent months researching PLAY DEAD. Too much time -- but I kept coming upon more and more fascinating things about Savannah and the area. I guess I was having too much fun. One day I suddenly realized I had a book due in a few months, and I'd barely started it. At the
same time I was frustrated because I felt I still didn't know enough. Every police department has its own rules and methods, so the police procedural aspect alone took a lot of research. Then I had a city I knew nothing about, plus two cultures -- Gullah and Southern -- that were also new to me. To that add a large dash of zombies and TTX!

Many people have asked me about the Savannah tunnels. They really exist, and were used to transport plague victims from hospitals to cemeteries. Here is what someone who had been in them told me: "It was the nastiest place I have ever been. The city sewer system was
leaking raw sewage, and there were more cockroaches than you have ever seen in your entire life. I'm talking billions covering every nook and cranny. They are dark and very cramped, nothing like the catacombs of Paris. The bricks and ballast literally crumble if you
lean against them, and I would urge no one to ever go there."

Another person who peeked in from the Candler Hospital basement said this: "It was sealed off, but the opening could be opened and closed. The walls are brick, rounded ceiling... In the basement was an OLD cage elevator, and a lot of equipment, like old wooden wheelchairs."

That’s some crazy stuff!

Thanks to Heather for inviting me to share my backstory. If anyone has any questions, please leave them in the comment section. I’ll be happy to reply!

PALE IMMORTAL ... coming September 5, 2006
from Onyx Books


Gena Showalter sets a date with TIB

Gena Showalter will be posting on June 13, so stay tuned!

But leading up to that, don't forget Anne Frasier will be posting this Saturday (May 27), followed by Jolie Mathis on June 4.


CJ Barry discusses UNMASKED

I'm thrilled to be here to answer the question all writers fear: Where do you get your ideas?

For my last futuristic, UNMASKED, the idea came to me fairly quickly. Whenever I begin a story, I search for something unique. In the case of UNM, I knew I wanted to write a pirate but I wanted him to be different. Special. To find that, I do research. I read, I study, I watch movies. And during my pirates of Caribbean research for UNM, I found a passage in a reference book that described how pirates viewed slavery as a direct threat to their fairly democratic way of life. If they ran across a slave ship, many times they would kill the crew and free the slaves. It was such a mix of right and wrong that I had to explore it. I decided to write about a pirate with great humanity and Qaade is such a man.

From this, Unmasked became a story about a space pirate on a mission to save as many souls from the plight of slavery as possible. As a former slave himself, Qaade endured the horrors and dedicated his life to stopping slavery, by any means necessary. That included pirating to fund his operation. He turned out to be the most fascinating hero I've ever written.

CJ Barry
CJ Barry will be writing a contemporary romantic suspense series with Warner Books under the name, Samantha Graves. Look for HOT coming out July 2007.
A MAN OF MANY MASKS To the merchants he plunders, he is the Ghost Rider of the Dead Zone. To sector law enforcement, he is a wanted space pirate. To the slaves he rescues, he is the savior laghato. To one determined female captain, Qaade Deter is serious trouble. Torrie Masters had heard of the legendary raider, but she never expected to encounter him, especially on her maiden voyage for her family's shipping business. Nor would she have expected that beneath his black mask lurks an enticing man destined to challenge her in ways she can’t shoot herself out of. But a great threat has emerged, one that leaves Qaade no choice but to join forces with the woman he believed was his enemy. A woman with a warrior's spirit—now entrusted with the fate of thousands, one pirate’s impossible dream, and the power to leave Qaade…UNMASKED.



Thank you to Catherine Spangler for kicking off the Idea Boutique Sunday. What an absolutely amazing woman she is. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, I highly recommend it. As she very aptly put it, sometimes there is no simple explanation as to where our ideas come from. Sometimes, even WE don't know!

On the horizon, CJ Barry will be posting tomorrow, so be sure to come back and have a read.

Lucy Monroe has confirmed she will be contributing on July 6, and leading up to that, we have several other authors who will be popping in.

Until then,


More authors to post soon!

Authors Jolie Mathis (June 4) and Cheryl Norman will be coming to the Idea Boutique!

Also,CJ Barry will be here on May 24 & Candace Havens has confirmed that she will be contributing to TIB on May 30.


Catherine Spangler kicks off THE IDEA BOUTIQUE

Hi everyone!

It’s great to be a guest blogger on The Idea Boutique. Thank you, Heather, for inviting me. I would love to share where the ideas for my stories come from, but it’s not that easy. For one thing, the writing process isn’t highly structured for many authors. For another, a lot of the process is done in the subconscious (which is always working on something), so many of us have no clue how we got from Point A to Point B.

My books always begin with characters (my stories are more character driven than plot driven). My first book, Shielder, started with Nessa dan Ranul. From the very first, I pictured her as an outcast, because she wasn’t physically perfect. From that point, I started asking myself, “What’s her story?” The book evolved from there, but it was flavored by my personal experiences.

I believe we’re all formed by our life experiences, by the books we read, the movies we watch, all the things that go into our minds. I can still cleary remember certain movies and events from childhood that made a big impression on me (the movie Thirteen Ghosts, which scared the bejeebers out of me, and the day John F. Kennedy was shot, when the first man walked on the moon, etc.) So the stories begin with a plot idea or a character, then flare to life, flavored by the experiences we’ve had. And those experiences form our life themes. We all have life themes. I’ve got a blog entry on this very thing at http://catherinespangler.blogspot.com/, if you want to explore this more.

Most authors also have themes in their writing, and it's usually a spillover from their personal lives. We may not be aware of our themes (I’m usually not). After I wrote Shielder, one of my critique partners said, "Cathy, you wrote about the Halocaust!" I was surprised, because I hadn't consciously tried to do that. But when I looked back at the story (a race of people being sysematically destroyed by another race), added that to my Jewish heritage, I had to conclude that was indeed what I had done. Another one of my themes is spirituality and the meaning of life. I've been interested in metaphysical topics since I was very young, and read all sorts of books on spiritual paths, meditation, astrology, Tarot, etc. Sure enough, that overflows into my books, especially my latest projects--the Sentinel series, based on Atlantis and reincarnation (book one, Touched by Darkness, will be out January 2007); and my novella, Street Corners and Halos (about a girl who "dies" in the Halocaust, and is turned into a vampire by an SS soldier). Once again, I started with the characters: A mother trying to protect herself and her son from a horrendous past; a young woman embittered by the loss of her family and the cruel twist of fate that left her a vampire. Once I had these characters in my mind, the rest of the story flowed from there, fueled of course (and on a subconscious level) by my experiences and interests.

Clear as mud, right? There’s no right or wrong way to create. We just have to go with the flow. I wish you many wonderful books to read and experience.

Catherine Spangler


More coming soon!!!!!!!!

Three more authors signed up to post today! The next few weeks should be fun. Check back to find out when Annette Blair, Candace Havens, and C.J. Barry will be telling you where they've found some of their ideas.

Also, make sure you come back TOMORROW (May 21) when Catherine Spangler will post, and on May 27. Anne Frasier will be our guest blogger that day.


Coming Soon!!!!!!!!!!!

I've already received five "yeses" from authors I've asked to contribute to this blog.

Check back soon to find out where Lucy Monroe, JA Konrath, Gena Showalter, Anne Frasier, and Catherine Spangler have gotten some of their ideas!



Ok, so The Devil's Possession isn't scheduled for release until next year, but I've already been asked where I get my ideas from friends and family who don't really understand the mind of a writer. I envy them. It's sometimes a very scary thing, our minds.

Anyway, The Devil's Possession came about because of one simple sentence. "It took 97 lashes to bring the first cry of pain from Draven Cameron."

Now, I hardly ever sit down with a burning idea in my mind. It happens occassionally, but most of the time, I just sit down and start writing and see where it takes me. That's what happened with TDP. That one sentence sort of wrote itself and it intrigued me, eventually becoming the opening sentence of the book. I instantly wanted to know who Draven was, why he was being whipped. I wrote on, discovered he wanted to die, then HAD to figure out what would make a man want to be killed so brutally. What did he do to deserve it? Why are they calling him evil?

So that's how it started. I wrote the first scene completely free of plot. Once I had those questions planted in my mind, I worked more on figuring out the whys and hows. It must have worked because it was my first sale.

You can read the excerpt of TDP here.
THE DEVIL'S POSSESSION will be released August 2007, by Berkley Sensation.
Visit Heather at www.HeatherWaters.net

The conception of the Idea Boutique


American Author sits down to do a booksigning. She's eager to meet her fans and talk about the genius behind her new bestseller. Fans #1, 2 & 3 want to linger and discuss Joe John, the to-die-for hero in Author's debut novel, but fan # 4 politely asks for a signature and smiles before asking eagerly, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Author forces a smile and bites back the retort that comes quickest : "Walmart." You Suck
Instead, she just shrugs and laughingly says, "I don't know. They just come to me."Ummm

Fan #4 is slightly disappointed that she hadn't learned this world-changing secret.
Author signs fan #5's book a little to gruffly, exasperated that yet another reader would waste a valuable introduction by asking such a useless question.

So, I'm doing the world a favor here. I'm going to get that question answered for the readers, and hopefully help stifle that question for the authors.

The truth is, each book comes about differently. Something different sparks the idea for book A than the one that sparks book B. To ask where we get our ideas is unfair, simply because answering would involve a drawn out explanation for, sometimes, many books. Or else, we give an explanation for one book that has nothing to do with all the others. You might then know where the idea for Book A came about, but still be clueless about the process that created the other dozen books in that author's backlist.

The Idea Boutique will be petitioning authors to give their "lightbulb moment" for certain books, describing how the idea came to them or the tiny event that sparked a single scene, which in turn evolved into an entire novel.

If there's a particular author or book you're curious about, let me know and I'll see what I can do. But for now, look for the first post to be about my own debut novel, (THE DEVIL'S POSSESSION, due out Aug 2007). Hey, it's my blog. I should plug myself a bit before giving it away to everyone else Bounce.