Inspiration, Take it Where You Find it by Kait Carson

Snoopy begins his books with the sentence, “It was a dark and stormy night.” The starting line for the Hayden Kent series would read, “It was a frigid November 1st.” I just looked at those words and realized the series has a birthday, November 1, 2007. Hayden is a Scorpio, born in the year of the pig. Definitely, a blog for another time, but it explains a lot about her I never realized.

A bit of background is in order. In 2005 following two years of what seemed like weekly hurricanes, my husband and I left South Florida for Wallagrass, Maine. I’d lived in Florida most of my life, and been a SCUBA diver for the majority of that time. Once in Maine, this warm weather wimp realized she was not going to learn to dive in a dry suit anytime soon—or ever. That didn’t stop the sea from singing her siren song.

An Internet writing group I belonged to buzzed with posts about Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), and when registration opened, I signed up. My intentions were pure, my inspiration lacking. The thought of putting 50,000 words on paper in one month scared the heck out of me. The math works out to just under seventeen hundred words a day, seven days a week, and this was the starting day. I ran a finger over the shelf that held multiple journals hoping one of them would attract my attention. My finger stopped at a bright red binder covered with a dive flag. It held logs of the last fifteen years of my SCUBA adventures. The first entry that caught my eye was of a dive on a sunken ship named Thunderbolt and the recollection of a beige plastic bag floating out of a window on the wreck. The next sentence captured my imagination. “When I saw that bag peek over the edge, I thought it was a body part.” I had my topic, and my 50,000 words flowed.

Hayden Kent was born. The book, initially conceived as a writing challenge, would not let me go. There were too many other diving stories to tell and Hayden wanted to tell them all. I could feel her over my shoulder when I looked through my dive log. The two of us settled into an uneasy collaboration of short stories. I already had a series character, Catherine Swope, and I wasn’t looking for another. It’s not easy to write a series. First, you have to conceive an overreaching arc for however many books are in the first set of the series, and then you build each volume into both its own arc, and the series arc. “One,” I shook my finger and told Hayden, “was enough.” Besides, Hayden was too much like me. In her initial iteration, the Nano draft was my fantasy dive story. Done, over with, and out of my system.

Gradually, Hayden changed. She morphed into a thirty-something, pigheaded, mind of her own, sassy lady. Her personality overcame mine and the stories, although based on my dive logs, became unrecognizable. This woman, a character I created, took command. I pulled the Nano manuscript out from under the bed and revised it. I came out, Hayden went in. The story changed dramatically from the first drafts and became, not Diving Diva, the original title, but Death by Blue Water.

I liked spending time with Hayden. Couldn’t wait to get to my keyboard at the end of the day and see what she was up to this time. In the second book, Death by Sunken Treasure, the story is all Hayden’s. In the third, we share a dive in Belize, but that’s all we have in common. Hayden has become her own woman. A friend in an odd sort of way, and someone who inspires me to keep telling her stories.


Kait learned to read at the age of two. Had to, her father wouldn't read her Prince Valiant in the Sunday comics. Her two favorite books are still Dr. Seuss's A Fly Went By and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Dr. Seuss was the first book she remembers reading, and the Alcott introduced her to Jo March, and exclamation points. Both changed her life.

Kait’s working life proved just as varied. A seasonal job selling fine china and glassware in the Washington, DC area soon morphed into a move to New York City and a job with a high-end Italian gold jewelry import company. The call of the tropics took her back to Miami and a job working for one of Miami's most colorful characters as he and his Dallas Cowboy owning partner developed a national restaurant chain. A stint with the fledgling Miami City Ballet provided more grist for the journals. That led to years working with estate planning law firms and lessons learned in the front lines of litigation. 

She wrote five novels during this time, honing voice and characterization, learning scene and setting. The books, some masterpieces of head hopping, live under her bed. She loved them all.

Today she’s combined her love of scuba diving with her love of writing to create a new series, the second book releasing this month: Death by Sunken Treasure.

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Kait said…
Hi Marilyn, thank you so much for hosting me. I'm looking forward to a fun day!
Jackie Houchin said…
What an interesting post and story of how a character and series is born. Thanks for sharing this about Kait Carson's book and life. (Sigh) which that would happen to me! But I seem to be a "reporter" not a "creator."
Keep it up, Marilyn, and meanwhile, I'm going to check out her two books.
So glad you could come visit, Kait. Like Jackie, I enjoyed this post very much.

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