This isn’t about all that technical stuff, like uploading documents and JPEGs and choosing key words and all that not-exciting stuff authors have to deal with in order to bring you great reads.
This is about the inner workings of an author’s mind.
This is about how the idea for a book comes about.
Fair warning: it’s not normal. It’s not typical. In fact, it’s probably a bit weird.
You’ve been warned.
So anyway, about five years ago, on a random Friday, I was heading into the day job later than normal. I can’t remember why, but if I had to guess, I probably worked really late the day before and needed an extra hour of sleep.
Anyway, this particular section of my commute is down a long, two-lane road that cuts through a swampy area. There are eight-foot cattails on either side of the street for about a quarter of a mile, then, on the left, there’s a dirt road, which is really just a driveway shared by a handful of houses. The house closest to the road is the largest, and then the ones behind it are smaller. I don’t know if it’s all one family or if maybe the big house sold the land at some point, but in my mind, I decided that the smaller house directly behind the big one was a cottage that the owners rented out to one of the key secondary characters in the book that was forming in my head.
On this day that I was late heading into work, there was a little girl standing at the end of that dirt road. She was kicking pebbles and her thumbs were hooked into the straps of her backpack, and I remember thinking, She’s young, like maybe kindergarten or first grade, and she’s standing next to this street where cars zoom past at 45-50 miles per hour. Seems like there’d be a parent hovering around such a small child.
And then a car slowed down and turned onto the dirt road where she was standing, and my overactive imagination kicked into gear.
What if that driver is about to kidnap that little girl? (For the record, that’s not what happened in real life.)
Okay, who’s the heroine? Will it be the mother? No, an innocent bystander. Someone jogging down the road. And if that person dives into the cattails for some reason, the kidnapper won’t even notice that he has an eyewitness.
What would be a good reason for a jogger to hide in cattails? Checking out animal tracks? Lost something?
Yeah, it’s Friday, and lots of people start the weekend on Thursday, and what if our eyewitness-slash-heroine got drunk last night and decided to go for a jog to sweat it out and ended up getting sick to her stomach?
Okay, so now, why would someone kidnap this little girl? What’s the motive? And how is the jogger going to get sucked in?
I continued on my way, and probably about a mile and a half down the road, I passed a small row of shops, including a dry cleaner.
And while I was at work that day, a co-worker told me a story about her husband’s family, who own a dry cleaner.
Her husband’s family is Italian.
Another one of my co-workers is Italian, and he tells stories about his mom’s recipes (she makes an amazing tiramisu, for the record) and how he took his now wife to Italy to propose and how his family is very authentically Italian…
All weekend, this book percolated in my mind. I was still trying to work out the key details.
Who’s the bad guy? Why is he the bad guy?
Who’s the hero? How is he going to meet the heroine?
How does the little girl play into it all?
On Sunday afternoon, my husband lounged on the couch and binge watched The Godfather movies. I didn’t sit with him; by default I’ve seen them a hundred times anyway and I’m not one of those people who likes to sit around and watch the same shows over and over again. But it was on, and the voices drifted through my head and…
Monday morning, I drove that exact same commute, and when I cruised through that swampy area, there was no little girl waiting for the bus.
And I thought about this story idea that wouldn’t stop bouncing around in my head.
Little girl waiting for the bus.
Jogger sees it.
Little girl’s mother is angry but not frantic. Why?
Dad is the kidnapper. Why?
DAD IS A MAFIA BOSS.
Boom. That’s it. That’s the missing puzzle piece to pull it all together.
But I didn’t want the actual boss to ultimately be the hero; no, he needed to be the bad guy. Because mafia bosses have to be damned ruthless to keep and maintain their power, right? So someone on his crew or in his family has to be the hero.
But I didn’t want the hero to be someone who kills or abuses other people. No, he needs to be someone behind the scenes.
The money man.
And they need a front, a legit business, behind which they can launder money and evade the IRS.
A dry cleaning chain.
And the jogger, she’s going to be a random person, someone with a heart of gold, someone who would never, ever become involved with a man who is associated with a dirty business like the mob. Because of course, our hero is going to fall for her, and if she ever finds out he’s connected to the mob, well…
THERE’S OUR STORY.
And now it’s finally ready for your reading pleasure. Trapped by the Mob releases tomorrow, 2/28/2019. Buy it or read it in KU, your choice.
Tami Lund writes all sorts of romance. Suspense, romcom, shapeshifters, demigods, vampires, and now, mafia. Check out all those others on her website: https://tamilund.com/