Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked what inspires me when I’m writing a book or a short story. Most of you know that with the Jersey Girl cozy mysteries, I get that inspiration from me! I was a stringer for a local newspaper for many, many years, and some of the people you interview are so bizarre, they are storylines in themselves.
I didn’t pick the reporter job as an occupation for Colleen Caruso simply because she needed a career. She’s a bit crazy. The job’s a bit crazy. They went hand-in-hand. A nutty, harried mom handling deadlines and kids makes for a faster pace than a single, childless woman who writes poetry, though I suppose poet had better have a day job if poetry is her only source of income. In truth, being a stringer isn’t exactly lucrative either. I mean, it’s not a constant, day-in and day-out career. I’ve worked a regular day job plus did the stringer stuff. And raised kids. And cleaned the house, cooked, did laundry, chauffeured the kids, the friends, the animals, and the husband (husbands always end up last – so sorry my Big Mike love). When the kids moved out on their own, I worked, cleaned, and wrote articles. Later still, I home-hospiced my mom. I was able to cover some newspaper assignments that I was lucky enough to get considering the hospice care was a 24/7 job and I couldn’t leave my house. I conducted all of the interviews over the phone (with back-and-forth emails to supplement the conversations). Being a stringer is hard work, but it’s fun. And let’s face it, I’m dead familiar with the job (a nod to the movie Educating Rita), and all that running around is what the Jersey Girl cozies are all about.
Some years ago, I wrote a short story for a Crafty Cat Crimes anthology called The Day Frank Hollings Died. I’ve been called many things, but never a cat (I should be so lucky). Where did I get the inspiration to create a cat-sleuth? As it happens, I’ve been a cat-mom several times (in addition to several other species). My latest is the Dust Man (see above). But this was pre-Dust Man and the story required a smart, arrogant, crime-solving cat with a numbskull human mom who needed looking after. My inspiration for Tom Cat (original, huh?) came from the Top Cat cartoons that I loved as a kid – close friends get to call him T.C. (providing it’s with dignity). Another huge inspiration – Brian Setzer. I kept singing the Stray Cat Strut and playing the album as I was writing the story to get a feel for my street-savvy feline. Geez, am I giving my age away or what? Anyway, both T.C. and the Stray Cat provided the inspiration I needed to get the story written and accepted for the anthology!
So if you’ve ever wondered where writers get their ideas – now you know.
Have a wonderful work week everybody and keep reading.