Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ideas, Ideas—They’re Everywhere


by Robin Caroll


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

I get 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 three daughters, 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. 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.

I also get ideas from my own life. For instance, the germ of an idea for my most recent series, the Justice Seekers, 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 The Game. What if a writer was on tight deadline? What if she kept playing on email and the internet instead of making her word count? What if... 


Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a Southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin’s mother is a genealogist who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage—two aspects Robin weaves into each of her 14 published novels. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home—in the South, where else? She gives back to the writing community by serving as Conference Director for ACFW. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, RT Reviewer's Choice Award, Bookseller's Best, and Book of the Year. Visit Robin at www.robincaroll.com.

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