Plots and Schemes

I love it when people ask writers where they get their ideas. Here’s how I came up with my latest.

Over the past week, I developed the idea for the fourth Mad Max mystery. It all started with a story in the Roanoke Times about a woman who died alone and no one found her body for 18 months. And that’s where my plot began.

What if Max lives near a recluse who dies and no one notices? I began fleshing out the plot in my head, wondering where it would lead. It led to thoughts of murder. Two murders. With Max, Alex, Emily and Manny trying to solve them.

All of this was against two wonderful golf courses in Pinehurst, where my husband Terry and I play two rounds on the weekend. Perfect weather. Warm, sunny, green air. Green air??? Yup, pines were in full pollen release. It isn’t called Pinehurst for nothing. Great, irritating green clouds of pollen blowing across fairways, coating cars, making noses sneeze. And in my brain stem, I kept thinking about killing people.

Next, Terry and I drove down to Augusta to watch a practice round of the Masters. Don’t we look like we are having fun?? We had checked the weather map before we left. It was supposed to be 60 degrees, so we rigged for 60. We did not rig for 40! It was so bloody cold that most of the top players stayed indoors and didn’t practice. We’ll see how they do.

We sat at Amen Corner, a place which has probably heard as many prayers as the Sistine Chapel. It’s also the Kodak hole at Augusta National. I looked out at the perfect azaeleas, dogwood, greens, white sand traps. And plots and schemes continuing to build in my head about murder. We fell into a conversation with two couples behind us. They turned out to be from Kentucky and as luck would have it, they arrived with a camera and a dead battery. (No, that’s not the death I had in mind.)

I agreed to take a couple of snaps of them and send the photos along. I wonder what they would have thought if they knew I was planning to murder a recluse by suffocation and a second man in a faked accident. You really can’t believe what some people are thinking.

At any rate, from the single article to a complete blueprint for a novel — all in one week. And that’s where I got the idea for Echoes of Silence. At least, that’s the working title.

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