A World of Writing Inspiration by Maggie King

Where do I get my inspiration? That’s the top question I get from readers. The short answer: everywhere. Frequently ideas are a collage of memories and characters from my life (or someone else’s life) to which I add a hefty measure of my fertile imagination. If the resulting story was a painting, it would resemble a Picasso.
In my acknowledgments for Murder at the Book Group, #1 in my Hazel Rose Book Group series, I thank my interesting family and friends for gifting me with story ideas for years to come. And let me add my well-honed eavesdropping habit to this gratitude list while I’m at it. It doesn’t matter if I understand the context of what I hear—in fact, it’s better if I don’t.

Social media is a gold mine of inspiration, a modern day gathering around the water cooler. It seems like everyone has something to say (some way too much). And, as I’m a fiction writer, I don’t have to worry about “fake news.”

Advice columns give me wonderful ideas. Consider the letter from the woman whose boyfriend was spying on her social media accounts; and the distraught man whose wife had an “emotional” affair with his best friend.

What inspired Murder at the Book Group? Book groups, naturally. Book groups have a special dynamic and the members can be fascinating to observe. In this story, I explore the decisions we might make as we stand at a crossroads in our lives. I’m intrigued by choices and how so many of us don’t consider the full range of consequences that can follow our decisions and actions.

Last November, I shared my inspiration for Murder at the Moonshine Inn, #2 in my Hazel Rose Book Group series, on Marilyn’s blog. You may view it here: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/2016/11/what-inspired-me-to-write-murder-at.html

I’ve also penned short stories. My first published work is “A Not So Genteel Murder,” included in the Virginia is for Mysteries anthology. Virginia landmarks were the theme and I picked Richmond’s venerable Kent-Valentine House, headquarters for the Garden Club of Virginia. But the tale of betrayal, loss, and the power of family ties that I set there was solely based on my imagination.

“Reunion in Shockoe Slip” is a what-if story that I contributed to the Virginia is for Mysteries Vol. 2 anthology. Nancy and Roger were lovers thirty years before in sunny Southern California and meet again at a book signing in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Slip. Many of us have someone in our past who we’d just as soon leave in the past. But what if we see the person again after much time has gone by? Maybe we share pictures of our grandkids, pets, or milestone anniversary. Or, maybe things go very, very wrong.
I wrote “Wine, Women, and Wrong” for the 50 Shades of Cabernet anthology. 

Ever since he devoured the Hardy Boys adventures as a child, Tommy Bradshaw has wanted to solve a mystery. When a wine merchant is stabbed at a fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia, Tommy gets his chance. He finds that detecting isn’t as easy as it is in books. Plus Tommy is besieged by women: the glamorous and sexy oenophile who’s hell-bent on seducing him; and the cop who would love to woo him away from his love interest.

The submission requirements for “Wine, Women, and Wrong” were few: mention the word cabernet at least once, keep the word count at 5000-7000 words, and strive for a light-hearted tone. I attend an annual wine tasting fundraiser and I drew on that experience (I never witnessed an attempted murder, though). Reflection on the romantic choices we make, for better or worse, provided additional inspiration.
I don’t expect that the ideas will stop anytime soon!


Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including Murder at the Book Group and Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She has contributed stories to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies and to the 50 Shades of Cabernet anthology.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Website: http://www.maggieking.com

Buy links:
Murder at the Book Group: http://amzn.to/2txXsAD
Murder at the Moonshine Inn: http://amzn.to/2dtozWa
Virginia is for Mysteries: http://amzn.to/2vf0G9E
Virginia is for Mysteries, Vol. 2: http://amzn.to/2vyShgD
50 Shades of Cabernet: http://amzn.to/2nqFxEy


Maggie King said…
Marilyn, it's great to be back for a return visit. Thank you for hosting me.
I love to read the many different ways author get their inspiration. This was great!
Linda Thorne said…
You have really done well for yourself in your writing. I feel the same way you do, there are ideas everywhere to fuel our writing and it was interesting reading about how you came up with them for some of your works. I wrote a post on the Writers Who Kill blogspot early last year on this very topic. I didn't tie it to the things I'd written as much as discuss the cases where someone has wondered how to get ideas. I brought up a session I'd stopped in at by mistake at a writers conference once called: Where to Get Ideas for your Book. When I realized I'd stopped at the wrong session, I felt bad leaving because they had only one other person in attendance. I never saw another conference session again with that topic.
jrlindermuth said…
It constantly surprises me when people ask 'where do you get your ideas?' Ideas are all around us and you have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to notice. But ideas are only the tip of the iceberg. It's what you do with them that counts. Good read, Maggie.
Maggie King said…
Thanks for your comments. Linda, I just read your Will Kill post and you and John both hit on the real question, "Maybe whoever is asking really wants to know something else altogether; like, how to thread ideas into a perfect plotline?"
rithkhmer said…
thank you so much for this good informations !

Jackie Houchin said…
Thank you, Maggie. I'm a writer as well and usually don't have problems coming up with ideas, but this is a super-handy blog post to bookmark in case I do.

I think readers believe that the IDEAS in "Where do you get your ideas?" are full-fledged outlines of a book or story, when in actuality, for me at least, they are just tiny thoughts that cause me to pause and wonder. Usually the stories I do write have multiple tiny thoughts that work together as I mull over them in my mind for a period of time. And sometimes I start with one or two thoughts, and eventually the story includes other things way in the back of my mind.

To me, this is really a writing miracle! But one that happens if you are just aware and observant and thoughtful.

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