How a Runaway Gourd Vine Led to a Cozy Mystery

Where do you get the ideas for your books?

It’s something people ask writers all the time. The answers, in its most simplest form, is anywhere and everywhere. Most of the time ideas happen when we are not even looking for them.

From Mystery Lights to Short Story Collection

For example, on an early fall morning in 2013, I scrolled through my emails while waiting for my husband. He was undergoing physical therapy for a shoulder injury that ultimately ended his firefighter career.

One of those emails was a newsletter from The Moonlit Road, a website that tells “ghost stories, folktales, myths and legends from the dark backroads of the American South.” This particular newsletter featured a story about the Brown Mountain Lights which led to this train of thought:

  • My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Brown.
  • Those Browns hailed from North Carolina.
  • What if this mountain was named for someone in that family?
  • What if the lights are ghost-related?
  • What if I wrote about it?
  • What if I wrote a story for each state in the Appalachians?
  • What if I made them all about women?

With National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) just over a month away, I took the chance to sign up. Two years and over 100,000 words later, I have a collection of 13 short stories in my collection, titled HAUNTED WOMEN OF THE APPALACHIANS.

How a Runaway Gourd Vine Led to a Cozy Mystery

Sometimes the inspiration is much more literal, which is what happened to me just a couple of months ago. I was in Baltimore, Maryland to adopt a rescued gecko when I pulled over at a fast food restaurant to double check my GPS.

I noticed a zucchini vine trailing out from beneath the fence separating the parking lot from the residents next door. This sent the author neurons in my brain into overdrive. I wondered:

  • Who owns the zucchini who grow on the opposite side of the fence?
  • Is it the fast food company, because the gourds are on their property?
  • Is it the private residence, since the vine originated on their property?
  • What if someone entered a wayward zucchini in a contest and won?
  • What if the property owner lost the same contest because of it?
  • What if the deviant entrant wound up murdered as a result?

The next thing I knew, I was plotting out my next book: ONE SQUASHED VICTORY. It’s my 2015 NaNoWriMo attempt. Follow Becky Muth Author Page on Facebook so you can keep keep up with my progress during the entire month of November.

If you’re a reader, then I’m happy to answer your questions. And if you’re a writer, then I’d love to hear where you find inspiration.

In the meantime check out this video about the Brown Mountain lights during a National Geographic shoot. Creepy isn’t it?


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