Thanks so much to Heidi for allowing me to take over her blog to talk about my second book, The Love Note. Published on 12th July with Orion Dash.
I write uplifting romantic stories and The Love Note is centred around a wedding dress with love letters hidden in the folds of the material. Often when I talk to people about what I do, or tell people what my books are about, the question that pops up a lot is how do you come up with your ideas? So, I thought I’d use this wonderful space to try and answer this.
The truth is my inklings don’t just appear from my imagination, they come from the world around me. I can’t think of new ideas or create characters when I’m sitting in my office (spare room) staring at my screen. It’s the random Facebook stories, the half-heard conversations in cafes, the news articles, the Instagram pictures, and the whispers of side-characters in films and books. My mind is always whirring with what ifs and maybe this’.
The Love Note started as an idea from a Twitter thread I came across; a tiny hint about a lost and forgotten wedding dress that got my mind buzzing. Whose dress is it? Why was it forgotten? What if it had been hidden away by someone? What if it was hidden away for a reason…? And thus, The Love Note was born. I jotted down some ideas so I didn’t forget, and went back to editing my debut.
The notes app on my phone has a page dedicated to ideas. I add them whenever I think of them, whenever something catches my eye. Sometimes they come fully formed, like The Love Note did, other times they are streams of consciousness. As well finding ideas through other media, these streams tend to be scribbled (is it scribbled when it’s electronic?) when I’m about to fall asleep, or I’m halfway through a bath, and an idea pings into my head. Those moments when my brain is amalgamating my day and making sense of what’s happened, when the unconscious thoughts are being processed.
My notes app is a hive of concepts, which comes in handy as I have to send my agent a synopsis before I start writing a new book. My third book, currently being readied for submission to publishers, stemmed from an idea I had while reading Good Housekeeping. It was a small article about swimming that piqued my interest and I squirreled it away for when the time was right.
For my current work in progress, I had an idea that I loved but wasn’t blown away by. Then I checked my notes app and bam, from a sentence I had written I saw a story unfold in front of my eyes. (I can’t talk about it yet as I’m only halfway through writing it, but it’s a whimsical romance with fairy tales at its heart.) I have to caveat here that it’s not always that simple, for every good idea in my notes app, there’s another sentence that simply says peanut butter sandwich; written as I was falling asleep and obviously very hungry.
I think, what I’ve learnt over the years, is that if I try to force that very early concepts forming part of my creative process it doesn’t work. I need to allow myself the time to breathe, to take in the world and scroll social media. I used to be fearful that I was wasting precious writing time if I was sitting in a café eavesdropping or people watching. I’d berate myself for not being at my desk every spare moment I had (I work part time and am a single mum, so my writing time is very sporadic). So, it was a learning process for me to allow myself that space, and I’m very glad I did, otherwise I may very well be here talking to you about my new book all about a peanut butter sandwich!
About the book
When Maggie Burnett discovers her mother's beautiful wedding dress just days after she passes away, she wonders why she'd been told it was missing...
Pinned to the waistband is a note that reads: 'E,
je t'aime. LS x' . 'E' must be Elizabeth, her mother, but who is 'LS'? Could he be the father she's never known?
As Maggie's seemingly happy life in London unravels, she decides it's time to go home to Norfolk and figure out the truth once and for all. Even if it means running into Nick Forster, her secret childhood crush. What if this journey to the past is the key to a new beginning?
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