People often ask me where my story ideas come from. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember the exact moment something came to me or what inspired it. Much of what I write comes from life, my life or the lives of friends and family. I also get inspiration from the news, television, movies, other books, a picture or even a misunderstanding.
Recently I watched a movie called Tall Girl and I was reading a book called Beauty and the Baller by Ilsa Madden-Mills and I was thinking about my dad. My dad was a long-time baseball and softball lover. He lived for ball games. An athlete himself, he played ball growing up and when we came back to North Carolina to live, he started playing and coaching summer league softball. He even helped coach the school team with his long-time friend and fellow athlete.
Even though Beauty and the Baller was about a football player and Tall Girl was about a high school talent contest, they both had elements I related to: body image, peer pressure, other people’s opinions of us, our insecurities and baggage… How much of our adult lives are affected by things that happened to us in childhood or as teenagers? This kicked off memories of summer league ball and being the coach’s daughter. Wanting to play but not being very good, I dealt with my own insecurities. I still have a love of the game, but I’ve never had a talent for sports.
I’ve been thinking of doing a story about baseball players for years in honor of my dad but these inspired me to go in another direction. I’d like to work on a series, The Women of Summer League about women some in their mid-twenties and some older who play ball and what being part of the team and playing means to them. I want to add in a romance and I’ve been toying with the idea of suspense, I had an idea for a murder but I’m not sure if I’m going to go that route. Y’all know me, I love a good murder and if I get to blow things up, that’s even more fun.
It will take me a little time to do the research for these stories and I have one series to finish and another I’m already working on, so I’m planning to work on gathering ideas and that’s where you guys come in. I’m looking for people, mostly women but men are welcome to share their stories as well, about your experiences playing summer league softball. I’ve worked up a questionnaire but will probably have follow up questions. If you are interested in sharing your stories, I’d love to hear them.
I prefer first-hand account research whenever possible but I will also read biographies, and watch documentaries about other women athletes, not necessarily from softball. If you choose to share your stories, know that I will fictionalize them and they may not look the same when I’m done. The character who ends up with your story might be the victim or villain in the story. If you are not comfortable with that, thank you but it’s best not to share. I would not want anyone’s feelings to be hurt.
Just a little background on my process. Chrome Pink, Rae Lynne Grimes started out with a description of my husband for a writing class, and she morphed into a half-Hispanic female with a bad attitude. The motorcycle she restored was inspired by the bike my husband and his boss were restoring that had belonged to the boss’s nephew-in-law who’d passed away from cancer. The breast cancer theme came from my friend’s mother being diagnosed with breast cancer and the work my sister-in-law was doing with Relay for Life.
My sister-in-law was one of the people who inspired my character, Dana Windley in White Gold. Our fossil festival and pageant were another inspiration for that story, combined with North Carolina’s ranking in human trafficking.
Titanium Blue and my couple were inspired by married life and it’s difficulties, my son who’d served two tours in Afghanistan, my father-in-law a Viet Nam veteran and my friend who’d lost his leg in an accident.
Red Steel was inspired by my youngest son who was a volunteer firefighter and first responder. His relationship with his wife, a photographer and my research into drones and explosives.
Every story I write has a little bit of my life and a lot of fiction. I never know what is going to start a story. Inspiration is everywhere and I believe sometimes we just have to reach out and claim it. You and I might both have similar inspiration but we’ll interpret it differently. The filter of our own life experiences, personalities and talent changes how the story is told. It can change again when we choose which character is telling the story.
What inspires you?
If you’d like to be part of my research for the softball themed series here is a link to the questionnaire. Thank you.