My next guest is a sweet woman I met a couple years ago while on vacation. We had a great time chatting over dinner at my favorite restaurant, Cheddar’s. Now, she’s here to tell us all about how she finds inspiration for her novels. Friends, please welcome JoAnn Durgin.
Source of Inspiration
By JoAnn Durgin
Where do you get the inspiration for your characters and their stories?
This question comes up quite frequently, especially now that I’ve had a number of books published. Another author once told me that I’d need to come up with a “satisfactory” answer to that question—something other than “God gave them to me.” In the end, my answer remains the same as it has from the beginning of my writing journey. But more about that in a minute.
Real life is one of the best places to find story and character ideas. Writers are naturally keen observers of people and life. Give me an airport—especially an international terminal—and I’m in writer’s heaven, studying everything from body language to the way they’re dressed. I wrote a blog once about my observations on a 12-mile drive to work. Try it sometime. You may be surprised and enlightened. Here’s a link if you’d like to read it: http://authorculture.blogspot.com/2012/02/dont-let-life-pass-you-by-by-joann.html.
Digging even deeper, my own life experiences have greatly influenced some of my stories and characters. How could they not? My debut novel, Awakening, and the first in my Lewis Legacy Series, is loosely based on my love story with my husband, Jim. More than the story itself, however, the character of Sam is based on Jim and yours truly is the heroine, Lexa (although she’s feistier than I am). Lexa’s grandmother is my grandmother: sipping tea on a summer porch, stringing pearls and picking apples to make a pie. Lexa’s father is also my father but with a different profession. I poured so much of my life into that book that it will forever remain the book of my heart. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe features a unique aspect of Jim’s character that I knew I’d need to write about one day.
In my subsequent books, I share character traits with my heroines. For instance, in Daydreams, one book, Amy drinks half Coke, half Diet Coke. If the server remembers to bring lemon after she requests it, they get an extra little tip. I do that. Cassie, in Moonbeams, makes the observation that she can’t sleep with herself if she doesn’t brush her teeth before going to bed. Pointing to myself here! My newest heroine in Sleigh Ride Together with You, Nicole, is a morning television show co-host in Des Moines, Iowa. Nicole shares my strong desire to give her viewers (readers, in my case) something meaningful to carry them through the day.
The biggest impact can sometimes be derived from the seemingly insignificant details. One of my books, Second Time Around, features a hero whose famous father died from a brain tumor. His father had pushed everyone out of his life and died a lonely, broken man. After reading that book, a reader wrote that she called her estranged sister who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Like the hero’s father, she’d been pushing everyone out of her life. As a result, the reader and her sister reconnected. I ask you, how awesome is that?
The other primary way I find story ideas is from newspapers, television and other media. If you’ll pardon the cliché, truth is indeed stranger than fiction in many instances. How many times have you read or heard something and ask, “Whhhaaat?” I read an article in the Philly newspaper once about a region in the foothills of Western Maine that has the largest concentration of certain gemstones than any other area its size in the entire world. I found that interesting and constructed a story around it. I’m hoping to release Heart’s Design in 2015. I’ve always been interested in space exploration, and one of my favorite books in my series is the upcoming Pursuit about my NASA shuttle commander. Ideas abound everywhere and they’re just waiting to be discovered!
My answer to that question about where I find my inspiration? I remember telling the author, “My inspiration comes from the Lord.” She stared at me, aghast. “You can’t say that!” she said. “That’s not enough.” While I love this person, I disagree. What better, more satisfying answer could there be? He is the reason I write and that will never change. If it weren’t for the grace, mercy, faith, love, and hope to be found in a relationship with Christ, I would not be where I am today in terms of my writing career. I’ve recently *transitioned* (a softer word for retired) from a full-time paralegal career to being a full-time author because of His faithfulness. Again, I’m reminded of this verse: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
I found this photo recently (see below). When the inevitable challenges come in my writing career, I’m going to read it again. It’s not pretty, it’s not flowery, but this is something my sweet Jim has told me time and time again. How I love Jim’s faith in my writing ability, and what this says. God is always faithful, and I always intend to be faithful to Him.
Blessings, friends. Matthew 5:16
Check out JoAnn Durgin’s latest release, SLEIGH RIDE TOGETHER WITH YOU. It’s on sale for only 99 cents until the end of the year.
As the popular television co-host of Wake Up, Des Moines! Nicole Reardon has achieved her dream. So why has the network sent “image maker” Alex Kingsfield to the station? The irritatingly handsome man is also the first man she’s been attracted to since Jake Marston dumped her three years ago in Starlight, Iowa. When an unexpected assignment sends Nicole and Alex to Starlight, can she rise above the past and make this interview the defining moment of her career?
Alex Kingsfield knows Nicole is poised on the cusp of network stardom. But beneath the profesional exterior is a small-town girl at heart, genuine and God-honoring. Alex holds the power to boost Nicole’s career to unknown heights. Or crush her dreams. From any angle, he’s caught in a “no win” situation when he finds himself falling for the beautiful Nicole. What’s a man to do when love comes calling at Christmas?
JoAnn Durgin is the author of The Lewis Legacy Series, Catching Serenity, Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series. JoAnn lives in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers!
JoAnn, I love the answer you gave. Must say, it’s the same one I would give. God is so inspirational. Thanks for visiting with us today. Your new book sounds wonderful, and what a great price! I hope my readers discover how wonderful your stories are.
Readers, how has God inspired you lately? Tell of a time you transitioned to a new phase of life and discovered you loved it even more than the previous one.
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