Q&A with Beth Groundwater discussion

Question: Where do you get your ideas?

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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Karen asked: "Where do you get your ideas for books?"

Also, Lisa asked via email: "I would love to know a bit about how the ideas came about for this new series??"

Since these questions are similar, I thought I'd answer both at once. The "Where do you get your ideas?" question is the most common one authors get and the one we most dread, because the answer is basically, "I don't know."

Now, I'll expand on that. :)

My pat answer to the question is "the ideas creep up on me during the night and say 'Boo!'" By this, I mean that I'll feed my brain with news items, other mysteries, tidbits of esoteric knowledge, people I meet, etc. during the day then sleep on it. This is when the subconscious brain takes over and plows through all that stuff to come up with new connections and story ideas. I often wake up with an idea after a good night's sleep. And this is why I feel sleep is a very important part of the creative process. As is a active sense of curiosity!

For each book in my two series, once the sleuth protagonist characters are set in my mind, the genesis of the plot comes to me with a visual image of the victim and how she or he died. Then I'll start thinking about who might have wanted that person dead and explore the victim's life to develop suspects. From the suspects come clues and subplots. I often don't know who really dunnit until late in the outlining process.

As for where the idea for this series came from, I discovered while writing To Hell in a Handbasket that my love of the outdoors and outdoor activities kept creeping into my mystery writing. That book features skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobile riding in various scenes. So, I decided to develop a new series where I could indulge in that love to my heart's content. I was an avid "river rat" in the 1980s, running whitewater rivers in the eastern US in an open-boat canoe, and I still enjoy rafting whitewater rivers in Colorado, so that was a natural choice. I've enjoyed reacquainting myself with the river rat subculture and its updated boating equipment while researching the RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series.

Also, by making Mandy Tanner a river ranger, a law enforcement person, I solved the "amateur sleuth problem" I have with Claire Hanover, my gift basket designer, which is why doesn't this person leave the investigation of the murder to the police? When a river ranger finds a body in or near the river, he or she becomes part of the county sheriff's office investigative team. Though the detectives in the sheriff's office have primary responsibility for solving the murder, information is be shared with the ranger and the ranger may testify at the trial.

message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Malmquist | 1 comments Loved your answer to this question! I was curious about this as well so this was very interesting. I can really understand writting about something you are interested in or know about it makes the most sense.

message 3: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 21 comments I really enjoyed this answer--always wondered which came first, the mystery or the death scene.

message 4: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Thanks, Lisa and Sheila, for your feedback! It really is hard to shed some light on the creative process because it's so nebulous and fuzzy.

message 5: by Betty (new)

Betty (nightreader) | 6 comments Beth wrote: "Karen asked: "Where do you get your ideas for books?"..."
I'm really looking forward to this series. My son-in-law does whitewater search & rescue/retrieval among other S&R, such as avalanche, etc. I've never done whitewater anything, although I may do the rafting yet.
With Mandy a river ranger, will she be your protaganist throughout the series? Will she be involved in other park activities? I'm a fan of Victoria Houston's fly-fishing series, also Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon ranger series, so I'm right in line with this new series! Great idea, all the best with your new series Beth.
Oh, got so excited about the series I forgot to mention how helpful your answers were to this hopefully future author

message 6: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Thanks, Betty, for your feedback on how helpful my answers have been for you, and good luck with your writing! I answered your question in a new topic.

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