Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
A couple of years ago I was sitting with my friend Colette, drinking coffee and waiting for our identically-named daughters to finish their ballet lesson. Somehow or other we started discussing the trend for supernatural romances. “Everyone writes about vampires or werewolves,” she observed; “I want to do something different!” We threw around various ideas: what about the Wilis from Giselle (well we were at a ballet school) or some kind of dryad? What about putting a Black Dog in the story, or Jenny Greenteeth, or one of those ghosts that hangs around asking people for a ride home but vanishes before they reach the address given -which inevitably turns out to be a cemetery. What about Frankenstein’s Monster -as a love story! Finally, giggling even as I thought of it, I said: “What about The Wicker Man, but as a Rom-Com?”
And then, once we’d finished laughing at what had to be the ultimate in bad romance plots, I thought for a minute and said: “Actually…what about The Wicker Man as a Rom-Com?” I got out my phone and started plotting.
I took out all of the Rom, and a fair-sized chunk of the Com, as well as all of the actual Wicker Man in the process, but what remained was the key question: what if a standard horror-movie background character saw her fellow horror-movie characters plotting a horrible virgin-sacrifice and decided it was up to her to prevent it?
And then: I wrote The Vicar Man.
Well, no, then Covid 19 arrived and we were all horribly ill, and the world turned upside down, and I couldn’t get two minutes to myself to write in no matter where I hid. But once we’d started to get the hang of things a little, and some of the kids’ classes were on again, and I could banish my husband to his new office at the bottom of the garden and actually successfully drink a whole cup of coffee before it went cold… Then I wrote The Vicar Man.
(In the meantime, Colette had written about a dozen books, including her supernatural romance Beyond The Surface, which is a love story about two men, one of whom is a merman)