Inspiration can be a tricky thing – largely because it’s not under our control. It’s no coincidence that the lit-up-with-an-idea kind of inspiration is synonymous with the breathing-in kind. Both senses refer to drawing in the spirit – spirare from Latin – in one case oxygen and in the other? Something else, intangible and exciting. Thus, inspiration is pulling in something from outside ourselves, which writers then, though arcane alchemy, turn into a story.
Let’s talk about my inspiration for Ruby, the third book in my Facets of Passion series. The first book, Sapphire, had been out for a while and I’d just finalized the second book, Platinum, with my editor. She asked me if I’d like to submit a proposal for a third book. I did want to, but I didn’t have a story yet. All I knew was that I wanted it to be called Ruby. It’s kind of a red, white and blue theme for me. Since Sapphire takes place on the California coast and Platinum is a story in Charleston, South Carolina, on the East Coast, I took this book to the third coast – the Gulf Coast. While there are many fine choices in that region of the country, one stood out crystal clear to me: New Orleans.
I have a long history with that city. My grandfather was stationed there during World War II (long story) and passed along a deep affection for this grand old city. Anne Rice, one of my early and deep influences, often sets stories there. My mother, having inherited her father’s love of the place, has visited often, taking me along, and even lived there for a few years.
Once I knew that much, the spirit of the place flooded in. New Orleans is about sensuality on all levels. There would have to be food – thus my hero is a chef in a five-star restaurant. The themes of masks and costumes fit in perfectly with the BDSM kinky games of concealing and revealing, of anonymity and exposure, of restraint and letting go in a way that only being a stranger in a city where anything goes allows.
As you can imagine, the story took on its own life and rollicked along from there. Talk about spirit!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!