One question I am frequently asked—with various degrees of horror and awe—is how and why I come up with my ideas for murder plots. My mother, in particular, often asks this with a shake of her head and a look of wonder in her eyes that I’m her daughter.
While I can’t explain why these sometimes morbid ideas come to me, I thought I’d let you into my brain to see how.
One thing that has helped, actually, is the pattern I’ve established with the “write” titles in the Cassandra Ellis series: Dead to Writes, Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Write, Write of Passage, etc. I’ll hear phrases with “right” or “rite” and that leads to clever titles and great plot ideas.
But this example worked the other way around. I came up with a concept and found a title that will work for it.
I was dropping off some books to my friend and fellow MWAB board member, Gary Lester. Besides being an author, he’s also a gem appraiser, so I was visiting him at a jewelry store in a local mall where he was conducting appraisals.
When I walked in, Gary was just finishing up with one dejected looking customer. I saw the man take the jewelry box and the packet of information and mope out of the store. I had to ask Gary what had happened and he told me that he had just appraised a diamond ring for thousands less than the man had paid for it.
As I was leaving the mall, I was pondering how interesting it would be to be a gem appraiser. I then decided to include a gem appraiser in the Cassandra Ellis mystery series. So I needed a “write” title that would work for gems or appraisals. I grinned as The Price is Write came to mind.
So now I needed a motive for why a gem appraiser would be involved in a murder mystery. Thinking back to the client who had just found out his ring wasn’t as valuable as he had thought, inspiration struck. I won’t spoil the plot by revealing details, but I will say that Gary was disappointed to find out that the gem appraiser was going to be a victim in the book, rather than a villain or witness.
There will also be a really fun scene between Cassie and Whittaker that relates to the plot.
So this is one example of how I come up withe ideas. The real problem is that I come up with more ideas than I have time to write. This book will be Book 7 in the series, so I’ll have a long time before I get to write this particular story.