I’m always asked, and it doesn’t matter where I am or with whom, if I base my characters and stories on real people or events.
The short answer is “no.” Most of the time. And that’s the honest truth.
There’s no way we can separate what we know from our writing. Everything we do, the people we are, what we know, trickles into our writing. There’s no avoiding it, but it’s never a direct path.
I enjoy the following story, and I think it speaks to what we do as authors. We are great observers. We are good listeners. To break it down to its most simple, we’re spies. And we’re watching all of you.
My husband and I went on vacation to Maine a few years ago and I loved everything about the visit. We stayed in the area known as the midcoast—specifically about an hour north of Portland in a beautiful place called Boothbay Harbor. With the wonderful location, perfect weather and friendly people, we couldn't ask for more. The resort we stayed at was on the waterfront and wonderfully picturesque. With its gorgeous flowers, rolling lawns and the stately main building, it’s exactly how I would have written a New England resort.
The purpose for the trip was to relax and spend some quality time with my husband, which I did. We sampled the local food, explored new places and did some major decompressing. Of course, I took pictures.
On Saturday, we were enjoying our lobster rolls at a wonderful waterfront restaurant when I pulled out my phone and took a couple of photos.
"What did you take pictures of?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," I responded.
My darling husband grinned. "What just gave you an idea?" he wondered. "The guys in the boat?"
That did it. I started laughing. He knew the two rather rotund, shirtless, middle-aged men in a high-powered cigarette boat were going to be in a story someday. It was an awesome scene...the men were flirting shamelessly with two twenty-somethings in bikinis and displaying as much bad taste as you would expect. I saw all the potential in the scene and my husband knew it. He caught me mining for material.
But that brings up the idea that everything is material when you are a writer. Every experience, every place, every person you meet can be stored away and drawn upon later. My guys in the boat may not turn up for two or three or ten stories, but I'll always have the memory. And the pictures.
So, the short answer to the question everyone asks me about where I get my ideas is that I get my ideas from everything. My mind is a vessel for memories and experiences. Writers use our surroundings—the people, the places, the sights and sounds—to bring our stories to life.
It’s what we do to transport the reader and when we do that, it’s a win for everyone.
Has something ever happened to you that made you want to write a book? I’ll be giving away one digital book from my backlist to one lucky commenter.
The Second Chance Hero
Kim Torres didn't know if she'd ever love or trust anyone again, but Owen Kent wasn't going to give up on her without a fight.
Navy combat nurse Kim Torres knew it was a possibility. But she never thought it would happen. She never thought she would cut through a critically wounded Marine’s fatigues only to find her fiancé, Tom Albanese. She never thought he would die in her arms. Or that she’d collapse against his commanding officer when grief overtook her.
Fast forward one year, and Major Owen Kent has returned from Afghanistan to take his position as the billionaire CIO of Reliance Software. He’s happy to be home, and everything is business as usual–until he sees Kim Torres, the nurse he saw unravel in the Afghanistan hospital, the woman he could never quite get off his mind.
Now Kim is Harper Poole’s nanny, a job she took to get her mind off of her heartbreak, and although she doesn’t recognize Owen at a Memorial Day barbecue, she feels an instant attraction. Kim hasn’t felt this spark in so long, and Owen is the exact opposite of Tom, who wounded Kim’s heart in more ways than one. But can Kim find it within herself to love–and trust–again?
Role 3 Joint Forces Medical Facility
Sometimes it was the quiet that got to her. Kim knew that if people were screaming, at least they were still alive. But now, there was nothing. Nothing except the hum of the equipment, the glare of the harsh lighting and the beating of her own heart.
Looking down at her gloved hands, her breath caught; her throat tightened. So much blood.
She snapped the latex off her hands and threw it in with the other biohazards, then pressed her back against the wall. As she slid down, her arms folded over her middle. Holding in her heart, maybe? Her bleeding, breaking heart.
Her emotions started to close in, her eyes started to burn and she wondered if she would ever get the memories out of her head. If she would ever be able to see his face as it used to be. The boy next door. Her handsome Marine. Her love.
Usually, the team knew at least fifteen minutes before the inbound dustoff landed with wounded—especially when it was coming from that far out. Today, they didn’t have near that. They had five. Five minutes to prepare for men who were so gravely injured they shouldn’t have survived the flight.
The gurneys came crashing through the doors and they all had their jobs in the ER. Kim was ready for her patient—an alpha—the designation given to the patients with the most life threatening injuries. They knew he had a massive belly wound and burns on his neck and face. As bombs went, this one was a widowmaker.
Kim remembered descending on the patient with scissors, cutting off the bandages applied in the field so they could get to the bleeding in his abdomen. If they could get that under control he had a chance. A slim one, but a chance. She hadn’t gotten far when the big man took a gasping breath and she heard the impossible.
Hoarse. Strained. “Kim.”
“Baby, look at me.” It was barely a whisper, but the words were screaming in her head. Her eyes traveled away from the blood, hesitating for a moment over his chest where his name was displayed. Albanese. God. How had she missed it? Again she took in every inch of him and when she got to his face, and looked in his dark eyes, she saw the pain, the fear, he was facing. And Kim knew they would be saying goodbye. Even as the doctors worked on him, she knew.
He was dying. And there was nothing anyone could do.
It seemed unimaginable. She and Tom were part of each other. Together since they were just kids, he went into the Marines after high school, she went into the Navy after nursing school. He gave her a ring.
The wedding was in six months.
His fingers found hers and he gripped them with desperation. He squeezed hard. Kim reached out and wiped away the tear tracking down his face. His breathing was more labored, shallower. And he was scared. So scared. She leaned in and kissed his temple.
“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I’m here.”
“I’m sorry. I love you. I’m so sorry.”
“I love you, too. It’s okay. It’s okay.”
But there was no response. The end rushed up. She could see he was losing his fight, his body convulsed, his eyes rolled back--then he flatlined.
The tone from the cardiac monitor numbed her brain, told her a truth she wasn’t ready to hear. Tom was gone.
There were no measures taken. No dramatic chest pounding. No paddles. The doctor called his time of death.
That’s when Kim turned and walked into the corridor. That’s where she was now and where she would likely stay, running over the last few minutes again and again.
Or, feel free to use the excerpt link: http://jeanniemoon.com/books/the-second-chance-hero/#excerpt
Jeannie Moon has always been a romanic. When she’s not spinning tales of her own, Jeannie works as a school librarian, thankful she has a job that allows her to immerse herself in books and call it work. Married to her high school sweetheart, Jeannie has three kids, three lovable dogs and a mischievous cat and lives in her hometown on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy. Visit Jeannie’s website at www.jeanniemoon.com