“Where do you get your ideas?”
In one month, I wish I could sell a book for every time I was asked that question. But I’m patient, and so I answer honestly. I have three muses chained in my basement and, after the beatings, if they don’t supply me with enough creative juices, I must be creative on my own.
But being left to my own devices has made me realize that I see the world differently from normal folk. Look at the photo and answer the questions, “What do you see? What’s the story there?”
My mother would look at this photo and ask if there was an elevator close by. My literal-minded daughter would say there are stairs leading to the Ocean. Old dad would gripe about all the re-painting that the white stairway would need for upkeep. My son says it’s time to canon-ball. And my husband would ask me to zoom in on the boats (“need to see what types of boats there are, honey, that’s important information”).
Me? See the doorway on the right? And the windows in the hillside in the middle-left? I’m sure there’s a secret passage connecting the two. And where there are secret passages, there are dead bodies. But not naturally deceased. MURDERED!
Okay, so it’s a stock photo from Shutterstock.com and I have no idea what the story is or where it was taken. But I thought it would be fun to take one photo and see what the different genres would say—
Mystery: I write mystery and sci-fi (with mysteries in it) so, of course, I see secret passages and murder. And my other daughter is convinced more than one car has been pushed off the cliff to hide the evidence.
Thriller/Suspense: Secret agent X enjoys a nice, cold beverage when her ex-husband stumbles onto the stairs with a knife in his back. He mutters the cryptic words, “it’s here” and leaves a bloody handprint marring the white paint. Is it pointing to the cave dwellings? The final scene includes a chase DOWN the stairs with the baddie taking a tumble into the Ocean. Oh, and a knife in the gut.
Romance: Our fair maiden, X, sits on the deck, enjoying a nice, cold beverage, when she spies a shirtless man rappelling down the mountaintop to the Ocean. He looks worried—concerned but in a virile, manly way. She hasn’t seen him here before. She must keep an eye out to “accidentally” run into him in the future.
Science-fiction: A gentleman, or two, steps out of a telephone booth or, maybe a DeLorean, perched on that rocky outcropping. A muttered, “Allons-y!” and a “Great Scott!” and the doctors are off again.
Fantasy: The fairy folk are not happy that the humans have intruded onto their sacred domain. Condos, motorized contractions, noise—the Fae domain has lasted a thousand years, it will continue. Sans humans. And one particularly disgruntled fairy has decided to loose the dragon to teach the humans a lesson.
Historical Fiction: “There’s gold in them there hills!” Tourist X finds a journal in the ruins written by a miner’s wife. She reads the diary, detailing the life and deaths of all who came to mine for gold in California, 1849.
Horror: A hurricane hits the Island. It’s devastated. No power. No food. Only seven survived the storm. But can they survive what the storm has released?
Young Adult: X is a princess who has a price on her head. Y is a prince of a vast underwater kingdom. Princess X’s father has hidden her on this island to keep her safe. But she soon meets a strapping young man who smells like fish. And, sometimes, it almost appears, as if he has a fishtail. Princess X finds herself falling in love with the Prince… of Atlantis. But his father does not approve and Princess X is in far more danger than she or her father could have imagined. A human princess and a half-man, half-fish prince—can their love survive?
Children’s Picture Book: “One step. Two step. White step. Blue step.” Or maybe “One step at a time. I think I can.”
How about you? What story do you see in the photograph?