One of the frequent questions authors are asked is how they come up with an idea for a book. The answers are as varied as the people who answer that question. And sometimes, the idea just sort of pops up when least expected.
Take, for instance, my novel Dreams and Nightmares. I had begun to write an entirely different story. As I recall, it was about a young mother with a 4 or 5 year-old child. She had just lost her husband to a freeway shooting and she was fleeing Los Angeles in search of a better, safer life for her son. She headed for a small fictional town up the coast where she met a character whom I named Albert Crawford. Albert went through several iterations. First he was kind of slow witted but a good person. Then he was a handsome grifter out for himself. Then he was this really ugly dude with an air of danger about him. The ugly dude was the one I liked best.
I couldn’t make the story come together. I must have written five or six different scenarios and all of them sucked. But I really liked that Albert character:
Albert Crawford had a face that looked as if it had been pressed upon glass. His nose, larger than most, had been broken in a bar fight some years back and it spread across his face like silly putty left too long in the sun. Thick, protruding lips opened in a perpetual pout exposing teeth that looked more like they belonged to some feral animal than to a human being.
I mean, come on, how could you not be enamored of such a juicy character?
I liked him so much that I chucked the entire story, got rid of the mother and the kid and the dead husband, and started fresh. I based the feminine character on me – a struggling writer. Only I made her a struggling writer who wound up making it big – like Stephen King big. Albert showed up in the second chapter and the book took off from there. He was easy to write. So was his girlfriend, Ruby Wheeler, a biker chick with an attitude. Decker Jones, the character modeled after me, wasn’t nearly as much fun to write. Maybe because she just didn’t have all those awful tendencies, and I’ve got to admit, I love writing a villain. It’s cathartic.
There are some people who didn’t quite know what to make of the book. I didn’t have the two protagonists meet until three quarters of the way through the story, but the reader knows it will happen – just not how and what form it will take.
I’ve had some very good reviews for Dreams and Nightmares from readers – except for one, who was absolutely aghast at the terrible language in the book. But hey, when you’re a criminal, you don’t exactly speak the King’s English. That review, which is only posted on Goodreads, was actually my favorite because it made me laugh.
So if you like bad guys, bad biker chicks and a strong but vulnerable woman protagonist, and don’t mind some salty language, give it a shot if you haven’t already read it. And if you do, a review on Amazon would be super! It’s available at just about all the online booksellers in paperback and a variety of eBook formats.