Saturday, March 29, 2014

Are You Listening?

Kathleen Kaska (Fifth Saturday Blogger)
Do you listen to friends, family, or readers who give you ideas for your next mystery?
            I have a long list of historic hotels, recommended by folks who read my series, for my next book. I’d have to live way into the next century to write a Sydney Lockhart mystery about every one of those hotels. But I still love hearing about these places. Each one has a unique story to tell: the ghost who lives in room 315; the infamous gambler who was murdered in the lounge; the blockbuster movie that was filmed there back in the fifties.
            Occasionally, an enthusiastic fan or friend will suggest a plot for my next story, and some trouble my wacky protagonist could get into. Though I always take note, rarely do these suggestions find their way into my books. I’m a Pantster and planning what will happen doesn’t work for me—usually.
            Early one recent morning, I received a phone call (yes, a real phone call—no text; no email) and by chance I actually had my phone on. It was my dear friend, talented wildlife photographer, and fellow birder, Wendy McSwain. Right away, I could tell she was excited about something. I figured she’d spotted a least bittern. Background: we’d just spent five days in Texas, birding along the coast searching for that illusive bird, which had recently been seen at a local birding haunt. If you’re a birder, you know that much of the time is spent quietly watching and waiting. While staring into the cattails one morning, Wendy wanted to know what trouble I had in store for a recurring character named Ruth in the next mystery I was currently working on. Ruth is the wacky sidekick who gives my protagonist, Sydney, nightmares. So far, all I’d come up with was a new boyfriend who was a pilot. He was teaching Ruth to fly. A little seed must have sprouted in Wendy’s brain, ergo her phone call just mentioned. While Wendy talked, I took notes. Her ideas were brilliant. I’m going to use them. They even spill into my next next mystery, which works wonderfully in a series. Murder at the Menger is only twenty-five percent complete, but the dedication page is already written.


Morgan Mandel said...

I'm never lucky enough to get great ideas for plots from my friends or family. I've only had strangers mention they have an idea for a book and they think I can just sit down and write it for them. lol

Kathleen Kaska said...

My response to that is "That's a wonderful idea you have and you are the best person to write the book."

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I love the Menger, be sure to let me know when it's out.

Kathleen Kaska said...

The Menger in San Antonio is a fine historic hotel. I had fun doing the research and imagining my character staying there in the 1950s.