Monday, August 6, 2012


Once again, Larry, my husband and partner in crime—novels, that is, wanted to share where we have gotten some of our inspirations. Please tell us your own stories, as well. Sometimes the 'back-story' is as interesting as the finished tale.
Recently Lorna and I attended a memorial luncheon for our friend Les, and it brought back memories of how we sometimes get inspiration for our writing.
Lorna’s day job some years ago was working in IT for a bank. One day she was having lunch in the cafeteria when Les placed his tray on the table and sat next to her.

“How’s the book coming?” he asked.
At the time we were working on our first mystery, Murder… They Wrote, and Lorna explained how one of our characters was going to be a protester at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. 
“I was there,” he said.
“You were?"
“Yeah, I was in the park.”
“Really? Tell me about it.”
He related the story of being in Grant Park during the clash between police and protesters, and hearing Phil Ochs sing “I’m Gonna Say it Now.” It was a life-changing experience for Les, and it became the same for our character.
During the luncheon, his niece told us Les had been cremated and his ashes spread at sea with those of his wife who died a year before. In our books, many of our victims’ remains are given the same kind of ceremony. The ashes form a silver-gray sheen on the water, often surrounded and caressed by rose petals thrown by the mourners.  Some individuals have commented on seeing shapes of hearts or faces in the spreading ashes. A final goodbye perhaps. I can attest to the sense of closure and the feeling of oneness with nature and the creator that others have expressed.
We were inspired to use that method because it is a common practice where our mysteries are set in Hawaii, and we have personally participated in the spreading of ashes of family and friends.
* * * *
Another inspiration came in the mid-seventies when I worked with an engineer on a refinery in Texas. His call sign on the plant radio system was Blossom, referring to his former “flower child” life. During one morning break, our discussion turned to rock music of the sixties.
“I was at Woodstock,” he volunteered. “It was bitchin'. Best time ever.”
“Tell me about it.”
Among the adventures he described was waking on Sunday morning to the sound of Jimmy Hendricks playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“I was blown away,” he told me. “I’d never been much attracted to patriotic music, but his rendition changed my life.” I tried to duplicate his excitement and enthusiasm in my story, “Wayne,” in Lakeview Park
* * * *
I  only need to close my eyes to recall the worn blue metalflake finish and missing volume control knob on the Fender Stratocaster guitar owned and played by our friend Wayne. Lorna sang while Wayne and I played guitars in a church praise band for several years.
 Wayne, the guitarist in my book Lakeview Park, contains elements of the real Wayne and shares the stories told by Blossom.
* * * *
Lorna has a sweatshirt with “Careful or you may end up in my next novel” printed on the front. It’s intended as humorous, but as any author knows, there is a lot of truth in it.
Wayne McKibbin and Les Senour are gone now, but small pieces of their lives remain, immortalized in the words we have written and in our hearts as well.


  1. We do get a lot of inspiration from friends--for characters, for plot ideas. Tell me though, have you ever killed off someone you know but didn't like? Probably not, you're too nicc. Tee hee.


    1. Ha ha! Nope, not yet. But Larry has a prime candidate at the moment - and he likes everyone. Well, nearly...

  2. What a lovely blog post! I remember seeing news reports of both events, but to talk to people there? Priceless!

    1. And it was so terrific to have some of the lesser-known facts from those who experienced the events! We do LOTS of research, and of course, we validated the stories. But they were true! What a great gift.