The FAQ series continues, this time with young adult fantasy romance author, Leigh Goff in the hot seat! I asked Leigh, author of two bestselling witchy tales, Disenchanted and Bewitching Hannah, what is the question she hears most often as an author and how does she answer it. Here’s what she said:
“Where do your story ideas come from?”
This is a question I’m often asked as an author and every time the same image pops into my head. The image is a map of seedling storms forming off the west coast of Africa as hurricane season begins. They cross the Atlantic Ocean, each seedling slowly developing into a tropical storm. They feed off energy from the warm waters of the tropics and some churn into hurricanes before making landfall or turning eastward into the Atlantic.
To me, my story ideas are those storms lining up in the distance, each waiting to feed on energy, time, and further imagining. Each desiring to become a full-blown, published novel. They consist of characters that need to be fleshed out, plots that need development, and settings that require delicious details.
My seedling storms start with imagination, inspiration, and maybe bits of memories from dreams or childhood experiences. I also make a conscious effort to tuck away all the goodies I come across—bits of interesting dialogue I overhear at a local shop, quirky personality traits or habits I might observe in strangers at a downtown restaurant, and historic facts I come across while researching. Then I start asking myself questions that might develop the story idea; questions like what happened before those ladies arrived at the pastry shop to stir that heated conversation? Why is that boy dunking his BBQ Pringles, one at a time, into his Diet Coke? What was the atmosphere like when an eighteenth century mob set a ship on fire in a waterfront part of town where I now buy fish tacos with extra guacamole?
As Neil Gaiman once said when asked where his story ideas come from, “I make them up. Out of my head. All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.” I must agree and I feel fortunate in knowing that hurricane season may only last July through November, but the hurricane of ideas forming in the ocean of my imagination keeps going.
Here’s an excerpt from Leigh Goff’s Bewitching Hannah:
Aunt Jocelyn, or Aunt J as I liked to call her, tapped her thumbs against the steering wheel to a crappy disco song on the radio. “Everything okay, darling? You look like you have cramps.”
Ten minutes from her home in Annapolis and I was already wishing I was back at Green Briar, mostly because of the cramps comment, but the bad music wasn’t helping. I swiped a blonde tendril away from my eyes and shot her a look. “Gross. Not cramps. Head hurts.”
She pursed her lips in the way that always filled me with dread. “Your head hurts? Or are you trying to suppress the family legacy?”
A hard lump formed in my throat as she unleashed her suspicion. “You know I don’t want to talk about it.” Tears welled in my eyes. I couldn’t talk about if I wanted to. A year and a half ago that legacy of magic drove my mom so crazy she killed herself. A few months later, my frustrated dad followed her lead. If only I’d done something to stop them. If only.
“Days after your dad’s funeral, when you begged me to send you to Green Briar, I guessed it wasn’t just grief and anxiety that was overwhelming you, but I let you go because it was what you wanted. However, it’s been a year now, and all I’m asking for is the truth.”
I hated when her guesses were spot on. “I wanted help—to deal with it.” A single tear betrayed me, trailing down my cheek.
“How could ordinary therapists help you stifle your extraordinary magic?”
Or, if you’d rather read Disenchanted, it’s on SALE as well, for only $0.99 from MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING
Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America.