Ideas for books and stories are everywhere out in the world--it's putting my finger on them that's not so easy. But here's an example of how a story evolved--the pieces were all there; I simply had to put them together.
Every year Mystery Writers of America publishes an anthology of short stories centered on a theme that is chosen by a big name guest editor. Two years ago, the editor was Nelson DeMille and he called for stories based on the very rich. I very much wanted to be included, so I racked my brain for ideas. At the time, I was staying in Key West and my sister and her husband had come to visit for a couple of days. We wandered down to Mallory Square, where the sunset celebration takes place every night. The big cruise ships dock there too, though almost always they are required to set off before sunset so they don't block the tourists' view.
All I had to do was to figure out what happened to her....
And where the detective had come from and why he was there...
And why he preferred to spend his vacation in Key West helping the local cops solve a crime...
advice column mysteries and gave him an unwanted, nonrefundable vacation from his sister. And had him greeted at the airport by a taxi driver with a parrot on his shoulder.
And out of all that emerged my short story "The Itinerary" (by my alter-ego Roberta Isleib), now published in THE RICH AND THE DEAD, edited by Nelson DeMille. And even better, nominated for an Agatha Award at the Malice Domestic convention!
Here's how it begins:
"Detective Jack Meigs knew he’d hate Key West the moment he was greeted off the plane by a taxi driver with a parrot on his shoulder. He hadn’t wanted to take a vacation at all, and he certainly hadn’t wanted to come to Florida, which he associated with elderly people pretending they weren’t declining. But his boss insisted, and then his sister surprised him with a nonrefundable ticket: He was screwed." Read the rest of the story here.
Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib is the author of nine mysteries including the first Key West food critic mystery, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. Please follow her on twitter or facebook.