Writers are often asked, "Where do you get your ideas?"
I believe most writers would answer the same as I do -- it's not a matter of coming up with ideas, it's a matter of weeding out the ideas and deciding which ones I really want to develop in a short story, a novel, or maybe even a series.
My first two novels both center around the main character Nara Blake, who is loosely based on the daughter-in-law of a friend of mine. Once I had the character, I took her from a Caribbean island to England, and after solving the mystery of a ring of art thieves in The Gate House, she moved on to discovering her great-grandmother's secrets in Lydia's Story.
Along the way, I have considered writing a mystery series set in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I am still toying around with something historical, and maybe involving magic, centering around the treasure King John supposedly lost in the Wash on the coast of England. Since I am a teacher, I have come up with many unused plots involving teachers. And after talking with a friend who is starting a business staging houses for sale, I think that might make a good base for a story. And then there are my mother's letters from World War II. I would like to do something with those.
I am not the kind of writer who can sit down and write for eight hours every day. I am too restless. I need breaks. So most of my ideas will never be more than ideas. But it's great to have this mine of inspiration. When it's time to start something new, I just need to pull out one of the plots or characters and start developing a story.
What kinds of stories do you prefer to read? Something close to home? In a different geographical or historical setting? Do you choose a book for the plot or the characters?
Whatever the reader's choice, at some time a writer has dreamed up an idea, and carried it through.