Thursday, May 12, 2011

Writing "Dominance"

I'm not sure I'm like most writers. I get inspiration for my stories not from life, not from my history, but for the most part they come from one thing: reading.

Sometimes I will read a newspaper article and think, "Wow, this would make a great story." This is exactly what happened with my first novel, "Obedience," after I read an article about the bizarre McDonald's telephone hoax case in Mt. Washington, Kentucky. (You can read that very article here.)

For "Dominance," a book that marinated and stewed and developed for the better part of 18 months, it was a little different.

Different because my inspiration came from the very field I work in: novels.

I have always wanted to write a thriller about books. That became the charge I gave to myself at the outset of drafting "Dominance." But books about books and writers have been done to death--see King, Stephen; Koontz, Dean; and a myriad of other authors who have successfully mined this field for years.

So I decided to write a different kind of book. A book that was about writers, but did not star a writer; a book that was a mystery, but had the intensity of a thriller; and a book that was not a horror novel, but that is as creepy and atmospheric as I could make it.

So: there it was. A thriller about books. A DIFFERENT kind of thriller. And yet...and yet I still didn't really know how to begin. I didn't have a "blueprint." I hadn't read a newspaper article like I did with "Obedience" to spark my creativity. And so I decided, upon much fingernail-gnawing, to pull from what I probably know best: novels.

And still--STILL--there was a problem.

It was this: how do you pull from a novel and not mimic the novel? How do you not just steal somebody else's work or ideas?

Here is how I got around that: I used not one, but TWO novels as my inspiration. And I did something else: I picked two novels that were as different as I could possibly make them. Those two novels were Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" and Thomas Harris's "Silence of the Lambs."

How in God's name could I combine a locked room mystery and Hannibal Lecter into a thriller?

Well, that is what I attempted to do with "Dominance." The novel is not quite a thriller, it's not quite a mystery, it's not quite a literary book about authorship and psychology--but I have tried to combine all of the above into something that is, above all else, entertaining.

I write to entertain. To allow the reader to get out of her world for a few days and find something that is interesting, thought-provoking, and maybe even a little scary. I write for that "jolt." And I hope, when you read "Dominance," that you feel it. That you are transported, at least for a little while, into the world I set out to create.

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