Where do your ideas come from? Writers are asked that question so often that I've posted about it numerous times. Still, no matter what I say, I'm not sure I've answered the question.The easy answer is--Everywhere! But usually people want something more specific, since they can't imagine coming up with ideas for over 50 books.
Two great sources of ideas for me are personal experience and research. No, I haven't experienced all the things that happen to the characters in my novels, I'm thankful to say. But even if I've never run from a deranged killer in the dark, I have experienced that initial chill of being alone in the house and hearing a door open. Thank goodness, there's always been an innocent explanation, but I can imagine what it might feel like to be in that situation and find a stranger with a knife in the kitchen!
In my new book, THE RESCUED, releasing today from Berkley Books, the personal experience aspect of the story comes from the stories I tell my grandchildren. The stories they like most are those about their parents when they were small. Perennial favorites are "When Daddy went Fishing for Chickens" and "The Day Mommy Unrolled a Whole Package of Dental Floss." (You probably don't want to know the why for either of those activities!) So in my Keepers of the Promise series of three books, a grandmother is sharing the stories of their family with three granddaughters. Each woman finds strength for her own future in those precious stories of the past.
Another source of ideas is research. Most people might say they're looking for facts when they do research, not ideas. But every new little tidbit I learn may well lead to a whole new story idea. I discovered the premise for the past story in THE RESCUED while researching something else entirely. I happened to run across a wonderfully evocative black-and-white news photograph of Amish schoolchildren running into a cornfield to escape being forced to attend an English school. From there it was a few clicks to the astonishing story of over a hundred Amish parents being arrested and sent to jail for refusing to send their children to a consolidated school. And this didn't happen in the 1800s--it occurred in 1953 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was a short leap to the back story in my book of a woman who faces just that dilemma in her own life.
To read an excerpt from THE RESCUED, go to http://www.martaperry.com/book_rescued.html.