I’m a professional eavesdropper

All my life I’ve taken situations in the newspaper or on news reports on television and lain awake late at night wondering how I’d spin that in a story. Conversations overheard in a restaurant or on the train or waiting for a plane. They all get tucked away into my imagination and brought to play later.

And yes, I take elements of my own life too. When you first meet the heroine Nikki in Texas Tangle, she comes home to discover she’s been robbed, just like I’d once returned home to find our apartment had been broken into and everything stolen. There’s a line in it where the hero Dillon tells the responding police officer she’s been robbed, and the officer corrects him – it’s not a robbery, it’s a burglary. Just the same as one of the police officers who responded to our call took the time to correct me, so that line got used in the story too.


A single line I wrote in Texas Tangle stayed with me and bugged me until I expanded on it and boom, Tangled Past the story of Dillon’s great-grandparents was born.

“She leaned toward Nikki as if she was going to whisper a secret, but didn’t lower her voice. “My grandparents had a permanent threesome all their adult lives. Betcha Dillon never told you that before.”

“No way! Really?” Lilly piped up, though instead of shock, her eyes were wide with interest.

“I could hardly tell her something I didn’t know myself, Gram.” Despite his tan, Dillon’s cheeks bore an unmistakeable hint of a blush.

“Yup.” She dabbed her mouth as delicately as if she were presiding over a state dinner, then realizing she had the attention of the whole table, placed the napkin on her lap. “And I’ll tell you something else—they weren’t the only ones in the county with more than two to their bed.”

She glared around the table as if warning anyone who dared challenge her. “Times were hard back then, and there weren’t as many women around as there are now. According to my daddy, his daddies decided instead of fighting for the hand of the woman they loved, they’d all live together. Musta worked out because they’re even buried side by side by side out in the churchyard.”

I’ve been inspired by conversations with friends, by headlines, and even by a sniper. (“No self-respecting marksman would use a laser sight. They’re for lazy assholes who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn.” ~Hidden HeatPinterest has been a great source of inspiration – you know the saying about a photo being worth a thousand words?  I’ve started making boards of pictures that inspire me about my heroes, heroines and the places and things around them. Now I just have to convince Pinterest to let me turn them all into a slideshow that can play in the background as I write.

So when someone asks me where I get my inspiration, you’d probably see a very confused look on my face because I realize that not everyone else plays that “what if” game. So for those non-writers who are reading this – have you ever heard a conversation on a train, plane or coffeeshop that made you sit and think “that would make a great plot to a book?”

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I’m a professional eavesdropper — 13 Comments

  1. Amazing where the inspiration comes from, isn’t it? I thoroughly enjoyed both ‘Tangled’ books. Just reading the excerpt makes me want to read Texas Tangle again. :)

    • Thanks, Karla. I find inspiration in weird places some times, but I think all writers do. I always remember the time my son passed out after getting a shot and yes, I must admit, a part of my brain catalogued it thinking “ooh, so that’s what it looks like. Now I’ll be able to write a scene of someone fainting realistically.” #badmom

  2. Leah –

    I confess I need to eavesdrop even more than I do. But I love it when I hear something that tickles my funny bone. My husband and I were in San Francisco a few years ago and heard a man say to his son: “When we get back to the motel, MeeMa will fix that up with her BenGay.” That little quip makes me laugh every time I think of it!


    • LMAO Kelsey! The fact that he said it to his son, not his daughter, makes my imagination spin even more.

      It surprises (and scares me) to hear how much personal information people talk about in public, especially over their cell phones, for anyone to hear. Dates of vacations, addresses, locations, bank accounts, credit cards, you name it. All good fodder for us when I’m writing my romantic suspenses.

      • I agree – kind of disconcerting what you can discover about people while they’re in the check-out line at Target.


        PS – I read Private Property last summer and loved it. Kept meaning to email you about it :-).

    • Just be aware that Tangled Past isn’t contemp, and the snippet is from Texas Tangle which is. 😉 (So glad to hear you want to read Tangled Past again! That’s a good sign. Unless it’s to play a drinking game, LOL. In which case, don’t tell me.)

  3. I loved this series Leah. I’m never disappointed in your books.
    I try not to eavesdrop. I’m always afraid I’m not going to like what I hear. Lol

    • Hi Lori! I guess I should say that I don’t go out of my way to eavesdrop — I’m not one to listen at doors to private conversations, but when people are talking (usually too loudly) in public places — coffee shops, restaurants, stores, bus stations, etc. I can’t help but perk up my ears. There can be some very interesting conversations, especially if they’re one-sided like when someone’s talking on a telephone and I get to make up whatever the other person is saying.

  4. I love that you incorporated situations and dialogue from your own life. I think all writers do this from time to time. After all, life is often stranger than fiction.

    • Hi Reese! I’d hate to think I’m the only writer who pulls bits of their life into their books. Which often makes me wonder when I’m reading other authors’ works just what part they’ve added. 😉

  5. I like to people watch. I make up ‘what if’ scenarios about the people I see. And there’s nothing better than eavesdropping on an interesting conversation – for research’s sake, of course!

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