Friday, February 7, 2014

Look! Up in the sky ... or right in front of you

Kait in the cockpit 
Kait Carson is another wonderfully talented author I have known for years and consider a good friend. However, because about 3,000 miles separate us, we have never had the pleasure of hacking out plot lines over coffee at the local Starbucks. Nevertheless, I often pick her brain knowing she has the ability to see an array of story possibilities in any given situation. She pushes and prods and coaxes the writer's standard "What if" question into giving up the details. 

Take it away, Kait! Let us in on your secret!


Ideas are everywhere

Driving down the road a few weeks ago, I saw a young man on a bicycle. Not unusual. He turned to look over his shoulder at the car approaching and I saw the most spectacular jaw line I have ever seen. Strong, chiseled. He is clearly someone you can lean on in an emergency. I knew instantly that he’s a character in my next book. I also know he’s got piercing blue eyes. A muscle in his jaw jumps when he’s angry. He’s a lawyer and he has a secret that he guards with his life. The same secret that can cost him his life and that my sleuth, Hayden Kent, must uncover. All that from a glimpse of a jaw.  Go figure!

My first book, Zoned for Murder came from a real life incident. It was 2005, the height of the housing boom in South Florida and one of my friends was the local zoning officer. She had the thankless job of citing the folks doing below standard work on homes to insure quick sales. She also needed to ride herd on the rest of the community for more typical zoning violations. One day she mentioned receiving death threats. Both against herself and her dogs. Zoned for Murder was born from that comment. I wondered what if. What if someone did try to murder a zoning official? What would push someone over the edge from disgruntled citizen to murderer? It didn’t take long before I had the answers to the questions and my sleuth, Catherine Swope was caught up in a murder investigation that threatened her own life.

Murder in the Multiples, the second in the Swope series, sprang from a photo of a mansion up for auction.
The home was gorgeous. It was confiscated by federal agents as spoils of drug profits. That’s all it took to play the “what if” game. What would happen if a Realtor bought the house for re-sale? What would happen if the re-sale buyer of the house were the rival bidder’s husband? A doting and well-meaning man who was blind to his wife’s secrets? What would happen when Catherine found her rival dead in the bathtub on the day of the closing? Who gains, who loses?  My husband created a dummy cover for Murder in the Multiples to help me visualize the house and the day of the murder. He drew his inspiration from what I told him of the story.

Death by Blue Water, the first in the Hayden Kent series, sprang from one of my passions. Scuba diving. I am a rabid wreck diver. One day, at 120 feet, a plastic bag floated out of a cabin and past my face. What if the bag was a hand, floating up to a window from the cabin floor attached to a very dead man? What if I had an appointment to meet this man? What if this man was the brother of the man who recently jilted me? What if, what if, what if. My husband created a dummy cover for Death by Blue Water based on how he sees the inciting incident.

So, where do my ideas come from? Everywhere. Sometimes it’s something as concrete as a news story, other times it can be as nebulous as a glimpse of a biker’s jaw. The most important part of the process for me is the what if question, and how my imagination answers that. Things are never what they seem to be.


Kait Carson currently lives in an airpark in Florida, where she mixes scuba diving, flying and a day job in with her writing. Her work has appeared in "Chicken Soup For The Soul" (writing as Kim A. Hoyo), "Cup Of Comfort" (writing as Kim H. Striker ), "True Confessions", "True Romance", "True Stories" and "Women's World". Zoned For Murder is her first full length mystery. Death by Blue Water and Murder in the Multiples will be available soon.

You can catch Kait any time at


  1. A good post, Kait.

    I've found people watching to be great fodder for future characters.

    1. Thanks William! People are such amazing inspiration. One of the funniest occurred when I was in college. We were eating at one of those barbeque places where they have long common tables. The woman sitting two people away from me was there with a gentlemen and two kids - suddenly she stood up, overturned her plate, and shouted the name of -- hum -- a socially transmitted disease. Then she sat down, picked up her food and kept eating. I'm gonna use that some day. Just don't know when. You can believe I nearly broke my ear trying to overhear the rest of their conversation and never heard a word.

  2. Hi Susan, thank you so much for inviting me to blog at Writing Horses. I had a great time. It is always a lot of fun to pay homage to my muse!

    1. Thanks for being here, Kait! I can't wait to read your new book!