Thursday, March 5, 2009

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

A guest post today from author Marilyn Meredith! Under the name of F.M. Meredith, Marilyn writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. The latest is No Sanctuary from Oak Tree Press. She is also the author of award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series as well as over twenty published novels. The latest entry in the Deputy Crabtree series is Kindred Spirits from Mundania Press. You can visit her here and find out more about her and her series. So, Marilyn, tell us, where do you get your ideas?
. . . That’s a question I often am asked, along with the one “Are you writing about yourself?”

For the first question, the ideas for my Rocky Bluff crime series come from many places. In the beginning, it was my police officer son-in-law who first piqued my interest in law enforcement. After his shift, he’d come to my house for coffee and tell me about his exciting adventures.

Once he took me on a ride-along, after making me promise to not tell anyone I was his mother-in-law. I admired the way he was able to calmly talk down volatile situations.

When we moved into the first home we could afford to buy, we found that the neighborhood was populated with police officers and their families. After becoming friends with them, I soon realized how the job affected their family life and what happened in the family affected the job. That is a theme I’ve focused on throughout the Rocky Bluff series.

Since then, I’ve been on other ride-alongs with a small department including one with the only female officer. From 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. she didn’t receive a single call. We drove around and she told me all about how difficult it was to be the only woman in such a male oriented job, and the trials of being a single mother. Some of what she told me has been a part of the main character, Officer Stacey Wilbur, in the latest book, No Sanctuary.

I’ve been a member of Sisters in Crime for years, and in fact was one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter. In No Sanctuary there is an incident about a pedophile that I borrowed from a case described by a female vice-officer at one of our Sisters in Crime meetings.

In fact, I’ve used a lot of information I’ve learned from other law enforcement officers, coroners, profilers and other experts who’ve spoken at the chapter’s meetings.

Fortunately, I’m also a member of the Public Safety Writers Association, which was organized by police officers who were also authors. They welcome any writers who are writing fiction or non-fiction about any area of public safety. Over the years I’ve become good friends with many of the members who are very generous about giving me information.

Onto the second question as to whether I’m writing about myself—or is there any resemblance to my main character and me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a great-grandmother and look it. Except for being female and a mother, I have nothing in common with Stacey Wilbur or any of the other women who populate my books.

However, when I’m writing about one of my characters, whether it be Stacey or someone else, I get inside that person and look out through their eyes—experience what is going on as they are experiencing it so I can describe the scene and the action as the characters see and feel it. For me, it’s the only way to get the emotion and action right.

No Sanctuary is also about two churches, two ministers and their wives. Since I was child, I’ve been a regular church goer. Churches, like their leaders and the people who attend, seem to have their own unique personalities. I’ve never attended churches exactly like the two in the story, though there are similarities. And fortunately, never have the ministers of the churches I’ve gone to acted quite like those in this novel.

A reviewer for the previous offering in the Rocky Bluff series, Smell of Death, said, “The cops of fictional Rocky Bluff PD have lives that extend beyond the chase and the crime scene. There are no CSI magical antics to be found here, there are no courtroom theatrics, and no hyper-intuitive detectives, just hard working cops doing the sort of methodical spadework that probably solves most real life crimes.” That pretty much sums up what I’ve tried to do with this series.

As an added note, as a great believer that there should be a touch of romance in every book of fiction, whether it be a mystery, science-fiction, or fantasy, the romance between Officer Stacey Wilbur, despite her vow to never date anyone on the Rocky Bluff PD, and Detective Doug Milligan does heat up a bit—though there are obstacles.

Thank you, Marilyn!

No Sanctuary is available as a Dark Oak Mystery from http://www.oaktreebooks and from Amazon, and autographed copies from the author at


Cheryl said...

Thanks for hosting Marilyn today, Ann. I've enjoyed all her books that I've read so far...enjoyed them so much that I've bought earlier books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series so that I can figure out where Tempe got started.

I posted a review of "No Sanctuary" at The Book Connection. You'll find it here: I hope you and your readers check it out.

One of the many wonderful things about Marilyn's Rocky Bluff P.D. series is that the books reflect not only the relationships between members of the Rocky Bluff P.D., but also how their jobs impact their families.

Thanks again for hosting Marilyn today. I look forward to receiving the ARC of your new book.

Best of luck!


Tracee said...

Another great guest post - I really enjoy this authors work.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you hosting me today. I love your books and I'll always remember trying to play Poker with you at Malice several years ago. I don't know how to play, folks, and was horrible.

Ann Parker said...

Hello Cheryl,
You're welcome! :-) The pleasure is mine. I'm also a fan of the Deputy Crabtree books! I haven't read the Rocky Bluffs series yet, but am going to pick one up.
Marilyn -- If you're out there in cyberspace -- Do you feel that it's important to start with the first book in your R.B. series?

Cheryl said...

Marilyn is at Epicon this week, so I hope she doesn't mind if I pop in here to answer for her. If she does, she can give me a virtual wet noodle. LOL!

One of the other great things about the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is that they are truly stand alone books. Each one focuses on different characters--though you'll see characters from other books in the newer ones too.

I am one of those readers who hates coming into the middle of a series, so this is something that I especially appreciate about the Rocky Bluff P.D. books.

Thanks for your great question, Ann.


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I really enjoyed this post. My books I want to read list has grown yet again!

Jane Kennedy Sutton

Ann Parker said...

Hello Cheryl,
I'm glad to hear that I can start anywhere, thank you! :-)
And Jane, I know what you mean. Those book stacks by the bed and in the office just keep growing for me as well!

Cheryl said...

This is the year I planned to review less and write more. Well, I had good intentions anyway. LOL!


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks all of you for commenting on my post. This has really been a busy time for me. As Cheryl said, I went to Epicon in Henderson NV and also visited with my sis who lives in Las Vegas. No sooner did I get home then I did a library talk and on the weekend headed for Oxnard CA where I had a booth at a farmer's market and visited two daughters while there.

And thank you, Ann, for hosting me.


Ann Parker said...

You're welcome, Marilyn! :-)

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