Shannon Stacey on inspiration–it’s “a wonderful, fickle thing.”

ShannonStacey2Welcome to the Contemporary Romance Café! I love contemporary romance, both as an author and a reader, so it’s wonderful to find a place celebrating the subgenre! I’m looking forward to reading future posts, and they’re bound to be inspiring.

Inspiration is a wonderful, fickle thing. It’s the spark that ignites our passion for a story and, when it strikes, it’s a rush that we ride as long as we can (usually until the dreaded story middle). But unlike other tools necessary for our trade—grammar, craft, conflicts, and the like—inspiration isn’t something we can study and hone.

I’ve talked before about the inspiration for the first book in the Kowalski series, Exclusively Yours. I wanted to read a fun romance filled with all the things I love, like camping and family and four-wheelers and mud and s’mores, and there wasn’t one. I wrote it for me.

A strong inspiration trigger for me is people watching. I’m not very good at interacting with people I don’t know, but I love to do the visual version of eavesdropping at restaurants, malls, and anywhere people gather. It was one of my dad’s favorite activities and I have childhood memories of sitting on a bench with him, making up stories for the people passing by. The way a man looks at a woman as he passes by. The laughter of a child.  For me it’s more about the emotion of the scene, rather than the actual visual. Recently, I read a local news story about all the guys in an autobody shop working together for hours to save baby ducks stuck in a storm drain. Those are the kinds of guys that make stories pop into my head.

Music is another trigger for inspiration, and I’m definitely not alone in that. If you roam around the social media of romance authors (and presumably any author), you’ll see a lot of talk about songs. Some use them to set the mood for writing love scenes. Others to evoke the emotion of the story.

allheeverdreamedI’m working on the seventh Kowalski book right now (Liz!) and my playlist is a weird blend of songs that probably only make sense to me. “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes. “Crying On A Suitcase” by Casey James. “Just A Fool” by Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton. Eric Church’s “Springsteen” and “Wildflower” by The JaneDear Girls. As I head toward the black moment, more songs will added.

What inspires you? And, if you’re a writer, do you have a song inspiring you right now? Share! (I’m always on the lookout for romance novel-inspiring music.)

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler. She can also be found blogging (almost) daily on her website, and is often spotted running amok on Twitter and Facebook.

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Shannon Stacey on inspiration–it’s “a wonderful, fickle thing.” — 11 Comments

  1. Thanks for being with us today, Shannon! You said your music playlist probably only made sense to you as a source of inspiration. I’ll hear a story on the news or read something in the paper that might spark an idea for me. Or sometimes it’s the lyrics of a song, or an overheard conversation. The great thing about inspiration is that it can come from anywhere, and it’s so individual.

    All the best!

  2. Welcome Stacey! Thank you so much for being here. I love that you wrote the first Kowalski book because it was a story you wanted to read, but it just wasn’t out there. When I first started writing again it was at the height of chick lit’s popularity. I loved the genre, but was annoyed that all the stories seemed to be set in New York, London, or LA and that all of the heroines worked in fashion or the media. Those weren’t the women I knew, so I started writing about everyday women living in the Midwest or Southeast.

    Thanks for reminding us of how powerful people watching can be. I need to do more of that!

  3. Shannon –

    I always love to hear what’s on other authors’ playlists. Sounds like you add to yours throughout the writing process. Music is a huge inspiration for me because each song is often an entire love story in and of itself.

    I look forward to more of your Kowalski stories!

  4. Great play list! I wish I could listen to music when I write, but I end up singing instead. Can’t do both at the same time. My brain isn’t wired that way. BUT, I do have a great song for you. Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse! I wrote a book around that song. (Not sure it will ever come out from under my bed either…) It’s the perfect combination of sweet and hard-driving.

  5. I use a playlist, too. Because I have trouble EVER being serious, I have to listen to really emotional stuff like Josh Groban when I write a deep or dark scene. Failure to handle being serious is a curse–got me thrown out of vacation bible school as a youngster and I still can’t keep a straight face in situations when I really should.

    Thanks for giving us the Kowalskis! I love them. (And your books about them!)

  6. Yes!!! I do that too!!!! I love people watching! I always wonder where they’re going, what they’re doing. There’s a bunch of retired guys that gather at the McDonalds near my house… as soon as the weather is warm they’re there in the parking lot in their camp chairs, almost like they’re tail gating. I always wonder why and I know I will use that in a book someday!

    Great post!

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