I thought I’d blog today on that eternal question that a writer gets, “Where do you get your ideas?” There isn’t one source, of course, our brains are constantly absorbing stimuli from news media, people we know, work, friend’s stories, overheard conversations. The latter is a big one for me, living in the city. No, I don’t eavesdrop, but you hear stuff, whether it be walking in the Loop, standing on the L platform or riding the elevator.
Since Explosive comes out on December 7 from Berkley, I’ll use that as an example. I’ve worked in E.R.’s and traumatic brain injury units, and I know that people do suffer localized amnesias much more frequently than thought. We’re not talking soap opera style I’ve-forgotten-my-whole-identity-and-now-have-fallen-in-love-with-my-ex-nanny type thing. Amnesias do occur within the context of dissociative disorders, and people do wander away and start new lives, sometimes never recalling their old lives. This type of fugue state is rare, though, very rare. Much more common is, for instance, for someone to be in a car crash and not recall the crash itself and a period of time afterward, sometimes because of a head injury and sometimes for psychological reasons. Our brains can only take so much, after all, and sometimes in the case of trauma, it might take our memories a few hours, a couple days, or a week to return.
So, as you’ve probably guessed by now, I wanted to do something with a localized amnesia. My hero in Explosive has undergone something traumatic—both a physical injury and psychological trauma—and he forgets a very small—but a very crucial—period of time. That eighteen hour period of forgetfulness became the central focus of my book. I think the reason that amnesia plots have been popular among writers in TV, film and books is that—well, let’s face it. It’s an awesome device. Memory is the ephemeral stuff that knits our world together. When we lose memory, we lose time, we lose events…essentially, we lose a part of ourselves.
The other thing that I wanted to try in a romance was to do a vulnerable alpha hero. The two concepts don’t go together, you might think? Well it does, really, given the right circumstances. For instance, romance readers are used to a vulnerable alpha in one familiar scenario—the alpha with PTSD—post traumatic stress syndrome. We often associate with PTSD with war and battle, which is the way it’s often used in romance novels. However, PTSD can occur with any kind of trauma.
Thomas, my hero in Explosive, is an ex-Navy explosive specialist. The people who dismantle bombs must have extraordinary psychological reserves to deal with stress—I mean…think about it. So here I had this uber-alpha who has looked death in the face hundreds of times, but it’s not that kind of trauma that impacts him. It’s something much more horrific, perhaps…something much more personal. I liked that contrast a lot. It’s in this charged, amorphous state of uncertainty that he turns to the heroine. The attraction is explosive, in part because this man is carrying around so much psychological energy that he can’t put a name to. Sex is a good outlet for that. We probably all know that during times of grief and intense stress, the sex drive becomes imperative. Thomas’ sexual attraction to Sophie is real–this is the woman he always wanted, but never had the nerve to approach–but in the story, his intense sexuality is sort of jet-fueled by his buried memory.
So there you have it…the miniature version of how came up with the idea for Explosive.
The video is done, by the way, and it’s terrific! I’ll be excited to show it, probably at the beginning of November. I’ll do a big contest for the video release, and an even bigger one leading up to the release of Explosive.
For today, leave a comment on this post, and I’ll put you in the draw for a giveaway of your choice of one of my Berkley print books OR a download of Velvet Cataclysm this Friday. Have you ever had a localized amneisa? Ever forgot a chunk of time, or know someone who did? What were the circumstances? If not, leave a relevant comment, and you’ll certainly be in the draw!
Have a great week!