Skip to main content

Reader Question: How do you come you come up with your ideas/story lines?

Okay, answering this could get weird, you have been warned! :)

Sometimes, ideas for stories just walk into my head. They arrive as fully formed characters in situations that are out of their control. This often happens when I'm doing something else - like driving. And is also the reason I often end up somewhere I never intended to go! 

Take my latest book, Rage. I thought I had Callum's life all figured out. I knew who he would fall in love with. I knew the story line. All I had to do was write it. So I sat down to do just that, but instead of writing what I'd planned, four women appeared on the page standing around a dead body, and I knew Isobel was the woman for Callum. Where did this come from? I have no idea. But I think there's a version of Invertary's evil Betty living in my subconscious. This woman has a big stick and she stirs up everything that's gathered in my mind, once it's swirling, she dips her hand in, grabs something at random and throws it at me - and that thing becomes a story.

Told you this would get weird!

My first romance book, Mad Love, started with a couple of lines that popped into my head one night when I couldn't sleep - "Icarus was an idiot. Everybody knew that. If you are going to fly to the sun you don’t use wax to stick your wings together." From there, the story followed.

For Lingerie Wars, I was feeding the chickens while I thought about alpha heroes (as you do!). I thought, what's the least manly situation I could put a very alpha hero into? That's when my preschool daughter shouted that the dog had run off with my underwear again. (When she was a puppy, our dog often stole my bras from the washing line and deposited them around our neighborhood. Yes. That is as strange as it sounds.) I looked at the dog, with a brightly colored lace bra in her mouth, and grinned. What if this ex-military guy had to run a lingerie shop? And Lingerie Wars was born.

You might have guessed by now that there is a lot of useless information stuffed in my head. It's a huge melting pot filled with everything I've read, seen and experienced. And with Betty stirring it up, things constantly get paired with other things they normally wouldn't get paired with. Like an old woman on a holiday to Peru who steals a mummified body. This came from a chance meeting I had years ago with a very proper English octogenarian, who'd randomly decided to stop knitting and backpack through South America instead. I met her in Bolivia, where I was working at the time. She was an amazing woman, who stuck in my mind. Combine my memory of her with a book I read about mummies and voila, you have Relentless!

This random pairing works for other books I've written too. But sometimes, a book is based on something I've done myself. Years ago, after reading far too many crime novels (Sara Paretsky, I blame you for this next bit!) I interviewed for a job as a private investigator. My qualifications for the job were a degree in fine art, a slew of random part time jobs and a voracious appetite for detective novels. I didn't get the job. But, when I came to write Reckless, my experience fed into Megan's character and she became a woman with no skills, but lots of enthusiasm, who suddenly works for a security company.

As you can see, book ideas come from everywhere. Every conversation I've had, every random thing I've done, it all feeds into the massive, complicated, resource I have inside my head for story ideas. You never know, answering this question might be the instigating point for a book in the future. 


  1. Dear Janet!

    I´m a huge fan of your books. I liked the Invertary Series with the crazy people (I adore the "Oldie but Goldie" annoying BETTY, she seems like a mixture of the four Golden Girls in one person!!!!
    Yes, I liked the Highland Series but I truly love the BENSON Boys.
    RAGE was a Masterpiece in my opinion. I adored Callum from the first book on, I hoped so much he´ll find somebody perfect for him. You did so good with Isobel, too. She was so human, normal (I liked it that she has stretch-marks and cellulite). she was fun and the perfect match for Callum, the broody, fractured soul.
    Sparks flow, and there is everything in it. Friendship, love, humor, sexy scenes, kindness and devotion. I´m not sure if this can be bested!!!
    But I hope Elle´s and Davids book, will be a good one too. I also suspect, that Esperanza isn´t just a cheap hookup for Ryan, I thought, maybe she´s a superspy, oder a Jane Bond 006 with incredible skills........ Oh, how long do we have to wait????
    Keep writing dear Janet, you´re made for this job, and you´re getting better and better.
    Greetings from Germany! I know my english needs improvement, that´s why I read in english.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

My new romantic comedy is out now!


Can't Tie Me Down! is live and ready for your reading pleasure. :) This is book 1 in the Sinclair Sisters Trilogy and is a romantic comedy set in a small village in Scotland. If you've read Rage, then you already know these characters - and, hopefully, loved them as much as I did. So, links and info below.

Happy reading!

janet x

There aren’t many jobs available in the tiny village of Arness, Scotland, which is why Mairi Sinclair works online—as a virtual girlfriend. For a weekly fee, she emails, messages and sends photos to desk-bound geeks around the world. Nothing dodgy, mind you, she keeps her clothes on! Mairi loves her job, because the last thing she wants is to be tied down to one man forever. Life is so much simpler when you can keep men at a distance. And that’s why she’s upset when her virtual boyfriends start turning up in town. Someone has hacked her online presence and given out her real life address. To make matters worse, they’ve told the world that she’s l…

Why set a book in the Amazon?

Okay, I know I promised I would blog more regularly this year, but it didn't go as planned. Instead, I spent my time writing books - lots of books! :) And the first one coming your way is Ransom, Benson Security Book 4.

Ransom tells the story of a couple who're kidnapped from a celebrity wedding at a high class resort and taken into the Amazon jungle while a ransom is demanded. They know the kidnappers have no intention of letting them go unharmed, so they escape into the jungle. Where they're hunted by the kidnappers, the wildlife and Benson Security. It's nail biting stuff folks!

So why pick the Amazon?
Well, many years ago, when I was young, fit and unencumbered by kids and animals I spent a year working with a charity organisation in Peru and Bolivia. And part of my time there was spent in the rain forest. The experience changed my life and I have to say, I've been pining to return to South America ever since. In fact, every year I try to get my husband to mo…

Reader Question: Can you give us any hints about future Benson's Boys books?

Right, Amanda, you asked for it! I just hope the answer makes some sense. :) 
Next up in the Benson Security world is Elle and David. For those who don't know, Elle first met David in book two of the series, when he turned up in Peru to help them out of a sticky situation. As soon as the two of them met, sparks flew and I knew I had to get them both together for longer than a scene of two. In Relentless (book 2), David challenges Elle to find out his real identity, and who he works for, and she's been searching databases with his DNA sample ever since. But she's still no closer to an answer. Now, if you've read Rage, you'll have noticed that not only are things heating up between Elle and the mysterious David, but our Elle has a secret. Something in her past she wants to remain hidden. So, in Elle and David's book, we find out what's in Elle's past and also, we find out who David is and who he’s working for. It should be an explosive read!

After Elle, I p…