A young woman sits alone by the side of the road. She’s very nervous, frightened, actually. Tomorrow is her wedding day. But that’s not why she’s scared. She's scared because she's waiting for a stranger to assault her.
Like all writers, I read a lot. I come across these little factoids that surprise me or intrigue me or, in this case, sadden me. And that’s where the inspiration for my stories comes from. Like most romance readers, I like my happy ending. So I took this sad fact and started the ‘what if’ game. So that I could twist this upsetting practice and give it a happy ending.
That’s how my story The Star Necklace was born.
The fact I read was about an ancient culture (somewhere around Greece). Their practice was this: On the night before her wedding, every woman would have to sit at a certain point on the road. The first man who chanced upon her (a stranger, according to the article) got to take her virginity. And then, he’d make a “donation” to the local temple, presumably in thanks for this good fortune.
My first thought on reading this terrible practice was for the poor women. What did they think about this custom? History will never tell. (It’s not told by the victims, is it?)
My second thought was, what an innovative money-making scheme! (Let’s not call it forced prostitution.) Anyway, I immediately started writing a story which turned into The Star Necklace, which has been sold (not published yet). Oddly enough, it’s a futuristic, not an historical. Though I made sure my heroine was not a helpless victim, and she does get her happy ending (luckily, a fabulous hero chances upon her), it still bothered me that she had to do the side of the road thing.
So I started a second story, a contemporary called Scarlet and the Sheriff, currently available at eRedSage. Scarlet is no one’s victim and I designed her to be able to enjoy and even flaunt her sexuality on her own terms. She served as a counterpoint to the helpless women I envisioned when I thought of that ancient custom (which, by the way, I don't think was widespread). I did find Scarlet easier to write since it didn’t hinge on such a troublesome practice.
These are two very different stories, but both started with the germ of one idea. I find that I get most of my inspiration from the constant reading I do.
I will raise a glass to my mother on Mother’s Day for raising me to understand injustice, and to look beyond the surface of things to figure out why something might be wrong, even if it seems okay because it’s our custom.
Of all the things your mother taught you, what resonates still?