My writing ideas come from everywhere! Theyíre all around me, in front of me, and inside my head.
For example, my third Pet Rescue Mystery HOUNDS ABOUND is an April release from Berkley Prime Crime. It features a very special pet sanctuary that takes in hard-to-adopt animals such as seniors and the disabled.
How did I get that idea? I eavesdropped! Before I started plotting HOUNDS ABOUND, I was at a local grocery store when one of the staff, who was giving away tastes of featured foods, was talking to a customer. About what? Dogs and other pets. Since I do a lot of writing about animals, my ears perked up--as they often do when pets are the topic. Too bad mine donít have as keen hearing as my own Cavalier King Charles Spanielsí ears do.
In any event, the topic of this conversation was a very special animal sanctuary near Los Angeles that saved hard-to-place pets. I made a mental note of it, and the idea for the background of HOUNDS ABOUND was born.
Of course story ideas come in all sorts of flavors and situations. The first of my Pet Rescue Mysteries, BEAGLEMANIA, featured a rescue from a puppy mill. That was the result of my hearing of lots of controversy about pet shops that sell puppies--often acquired from puppy mills. My story started with someone trying to hide puppies that came from a fictional puppy mill by tossing them down a storm drain. They were saved by members of the Small Animal Rescue Team of Los Angeles Animal Services--fictional people in the story, of course, but a very real team here in L.A., a wonderful and generous group that has allowed me to observe some of its training session. Yes, their very existence helped to generate the beginning of BEAGLEMANIA.
The second in the series, THE MORE THE TERRIER, had an animal hoarder in it. That idea came from reading and watching TV. You can see lots of hoarders on various television shows.
I recently turned in the manuscript for the fourth story in my Pet Rescue series. The idea for it was the result of my frequently driving past the Los Angeles area headquarters of the American Humane Association, which is the only organization that can give the ďNo Animals Were HarmedĒ ģ certification to films and TV shows featuring animals. I had to find out what they did--and now Iím using it in a story.
So, yes, my ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. Iím always eavesdropping and reading and paying attention to things that perhaps non-writers ignore.
If you ask any writer, at least one whoís honest about it, the response will probably be similar. Ideas are ubiquitous and exciting and inspiring!
It helps to do get involved doing something related to what Iím writing about. Since I started writing the Pet Rescue Mysteries, Iíve also been volunteering at Pet Orphans of Southern California, a wonderful private pet shelter not far from where I live, in LAís San Fernando Valley. Iím a dog adoption counselor there. The staff and other volunteers are amazing. I learn a lot from them, and I really enjoy introducing potential adopters to dogs who may become new members of their family. I donít use anyone I meet as characters, but my experiences there really help me relate even more to my protagonist, Lauren Vancouver, and what sheís going through as the chief administrator of a wonderful, but fictional, no-kill shelter. Oh, and by the way, since the Pet Rescue Mysteries are cozy mysteries at least one person gets killed in each story so their murders can get solved. I therefore use the slogan, ďIn the Pet Rescue Mysteries, Ďno-killí means pets, not people!Ē
Iím also excited that the next season of Pit Boss, the reality TV show on Animal Planet, will be filmed at Pet Orphans. Will I appear in any of the shows? Who knows! Maybe Iíll get a cameo... or not.
In addition to this potentially exciting possibility is a very real program in which Iím participating: Read Humaneô. Berkley Prime Crime is an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Penguin has made a substantial donation to the Humane Society of The United Statesģ in support of its Animal Rescue Team, and is also shipping 50,000 books starring furry friends, both dogs and cats, which encourage readers to learn more and donate to the Humane Society and its Animal Rescue Team. Participating authors besides me include Rebecca M. Hale, Alison Pace, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly--and Iím especially excited to report that the Read Humane spokesperson is Nora Roberts.
In addition to my Pet Rescue Mysteries, I write romances for two Harlequin series. My Harlequin Nocturnes are mostly a paranormal romance miniseries called Alpha Force, about a highly covert military unit of shapeshifters. Sadly, I donít know any shapeshifters whose discussions I can eavesdrop on, nor have I ever observed any shapeshifting except in my own mind. As a result, these ideas are my imagination--although some of the stories do occur in areas with which Iím familiar and which help to inspire me. Iíve also created my own world of shapeshifters with, perhaps, different rules from those that other authors write about.
My first Harlequin Romantic Suspense, UNDERCOVER SOLDIER, will be a July 2012 release. Its plot is very loosely based on a mystery in my own life, and that is where the idea originated.
I love to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact me. My website is www.LindaOJohnston.com, and I blog weekly at KillerHobbies.blogspot.com. Iím also on Facebook.
Oh, and donít be surprised if something you say to me winds up appearing in one of my future books!
Linda O. Johnston is the author of the Pet Rescue Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime, a spinoff series from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series. The first in the new series, BEAGLEMANIA, debuted March 1, 2011, and the second, THE MORE THE TERRIER was an October 2011 release, and HOUNDS ABOUND was published in April 2012, with more to come. Linda also writes paranormal romances for Harlequin Nocturne and romantic suspense novels for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Linda lives in Los Angeles and volunteers at a private pet shelter as a dog adoption counselor. Visit Linda at www.LindaOJohnston.com
Saving animals and solving murders seem to go paw-in-paw for shelter manager and amateur sleuth Lauren Vancouver. But this time, mixed up in a murder that may close a much-needed new shelter, Lauren will have to keep herself and her critters safe from an unleashed killer.
For Lauren, Save Them All, the newest no-kill shelter in Los Angeles, is just what the vet ordered: a place for handicapped kitties and senior spaniels to find a loving home and a second chance. Thereís just one problem. Its charming owner, Bella Frankovick, is now suspected of murdering her ex-husband, a powerful and animal-hating cosmetic surgeon. And itís up to Lauren to use her bulldog grip on the case to rescue Save Them All and decide Bellaís fate, while keeping herself and her own critters safe from an unleashed killer.
HOUNDS ABOUND, the third Pet Rescue Mystery from Berkley Prime Crime!
*Edited by Teresa Crumpton*