Someone asked me the other day why I didn’t get Deadly Doubloons out in mid-summer like I planned. The truth is that I was delayed in trying to work through a few details. Although we’ve been diving in lovely Grand Bahama, I needed to put part of the story in the Out Islands. I originally chose Long Island, then mentioned something about it to a dear friend who has spent many years in and around the Bahamas. As I discussed a particular plot point, he said, “Long Island doesn’t really make sense for that.” Oh dear, and okay, back to the map.
I had a similar problem with a tricky part in killing off one character as the same friend and my husband persuaded me that what I wanted to do was far too complicated. A simpler approach would be just as effective and more manageable. I have also learned, however, that when one is contemplating how to murder a character, one should be cautious about having the discussion in public. I was engaged in such a conversation at lunch one day and my companion indicated the table within hearing distance where four policemen were lunching. “You have gotten a couple of odd looks,” she said in a low voice. Yes well, I can see how certain words and phrases would have raised an eye brow or two.
I have also been asked where I get ideas and the answer is, “Everywhere.” I certainly watch more true crime shows than I did in the past and I pick up bits and pieces from different stories that people tell. The beauty of fiction is you can blend characters and modify actions, although I go to a great deal of trouble when addressing certain technical details in a plot. For example, way back when I did Orchids in the Snow, I had to change a scene because I discovered that an event at the core of the scene was historically inaccurate. Ah well, it wasn’t that difficult to change.
I do appreciate friends, and sometimes total strangers that I contact through Internet searches, who help keep me straight on details that I have questions about. On the other hand, there are times in my fiction when I definitely stretch the envelope for the sake of a story. I do usually include an Author’s Note when I do that though. At other times, whether or not I stretch the envelope is a matter of perspective. One of the most amusing along those lines was when I had a situation where I had a character engage in a one-night stand and some relationship complications emerged from that. I was told by one reader that, “Really, no one has one night stands anymore – it just wasn’t believable.” Well, maybe people in her world don’t do that….