Brenda Novak - Dead Silence
So many people ask me where I come up with the ideas behind my books. When I first started writing, I had ONE idea. It was THE idea--basically the theme behind OF NOBLE BIRTH, my first book--and I had no clue how writers came up with a second, third, fourth story. But then something happened. As I began to write daily, my mind started sifting information in a different way. I was constantly putting out feelers, listening, asking myself "what if?" I found that the well for ideas is actually very deep so long as I keep living a balanced life. If I stop doing the things I enjoy--reading, traveling, going out with friends, staying involved with my kids, my muse begins to wither. That's interesting, isn't it? It tells me that I have to keep feeding that little fountain of creativity inside myself or it will run dry.
I came up with the idea behind DEAD SILENCE while I was attending a national writing conference. I knew I wanted to do three connected books, and I wanted them to be full of pulse-pounding suspense and edge-of-your-seat drama. This was a calculated decision because romantic suspense was something I loved and was selling well. But how to create three connected books that were each riveting in their own right?
I started fleshing out the idea behind the trilogy by establishing the central conflict, which is how I usually build a book. I wanted the heroine to be hiding something that was so horrible it had affected her whole life--and the lives of her siblings. And I wanted it to impact her current situation as much as her past, so that the conflict would be real and easy to sustain throughout the novel. To do that, I put the body of her stepfather in the backyard, and I gave her a good reason for knowing what had happened to him and for hiding it.
From there I chose the setting. I wanted something moody and atmospheric--someplace in the backwoods that wasn't the least progressive. I went on a research trip and picked a nice spot, then created my own fictional town in Mississippi so that it could be whatever I wanted it to be. Then the characters started to people the town and to reveal themselves. I guess this process was a bit like, "If you build it, they will come." LOL I built the conflict and the town, and then the characters began to talk to me. One voice was louder than the others, more interesting. That was the voice of Clay Montgomery. After twenty-five books, he's my favorite character. I don't know that I've ever created a stronger, sexier more heroic protagonist. Grace, his sister, turned out to be a very worthy heroine in her own right. The heroine of the third book, Madeline, is the stepsister to Clay and Grace and has a whole new perspective on the missing Reverend Barker.
It was a fascinating trilogy to write. It was difficult because the plots were so large and intertwined, but definitely rewarding. Now I'm trying to come up with a good idea for my next suspense trilogy. I'm thinking Louisiana might make a nice setting...
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