One famous writer used to say he sent off for them like box-top prizes. I know that some popular and successful writers just take a title and then run with it. There are others who use word association to build a story. And then there are some who want to write about themselves.
I wrote THE COWBOY’S BABY from the title out. Some of it was obvious—cowboy, baby (but if you’ve read TCB you already know it’s not just any old cowboy and it’s a very different sort of baby). But then before I put a single word to paper, I decided my cowboy was going to be Sleeping Beauty. Why? Because I like these sort of stories and have always wanted to write one. That’s the only reason why. (Researching Sleeping Beauty tales was interesting. Anyone other than me run into the Anne Rice versions? No comment.)
So, now I had a sex (female) and a problem for her (sleeping? obliviousness?). To make things easier on me, I picked a setting I knew—a gated community with a golf course, swimming pools, lots of nice homes and too many middle class retirees (my parents had lived in such a place). The golf course itself gave me my other main character and one of the pivotal plot lines. At first Ellison Stewart was going to be the golf pro. Again, before I put any words to paper he morphed into the managing director of the whole place, complete with pretty, perky assistant. And since he had the pretty, perky assistant, then Sleeping Beauty had to have the stable, steady, tried and true ranch hand beau. Yes, Sleeping Beauty owns a ranch. This is Texas.
Then all of it just about wrote itself from these few basic ideas. THE COWBOY’S BABY is the only book, the only piece of fiction I’ve written from the title out. Oh, wait. I did do another a very, very long time ago. It was sort of a challenge from Harlan Ellison in an article he wrote. He said no one could write an interesting story called THE CHAIR, and I told myself I could. I wrote it, but it didn’t work.
Back to THE COWBOY’S BABY and the title. Since I wrote the book entirely from the title, I couldn’t change the title once I was finished. It never occurred to me to look it up and see if there were any more books named THE COWBOY’S BABY. Well, there are quite a few named THE COWBOY’S BABY, but from the covers I can pretty much tell you they aren’t anything like mine.
So, where do you get your ideas? I got mine from a title and extrapolated a complete story from it. When I found the cowboy I found the Sleeping Beauty idea. When I found the setting I found the hero and the problem that brings the two main characters together for the first time. When I found the hero I found a lot of secondary characters. And when I moved to Lockhart, Texas, I found the cowboy’s baby.
All my novels and short stories can be found at https://www.amazon.com/author/gretchenrix
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Blossom by Andrew Vachss.