Follow The Yellow Brick Road
This question isn't always easy to answer. Sometimes it's something we've seen on the TV news that sparks a train of thought. Sometimes it can be something as small as a word that rattles around inside our brain. But my books are set in the past and many of my plots actually spring from my research. In the case of both my Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness books, I often start with a place--how about if I send Lady Georgie to a royal wedding in Europe and it turns out to be a castle in Transylvania? Or wouldn't it be interesting if Molly Murphy investigated a case in New York's Chinatown? Then I start to read up on the real history and usually a story starts to emerge from what I discover.
Sometimes this research is an absolute road to serendipity and this was the case with the Lady Georgie book I have just finished, to be called Naughty in Nice. As you can tell from the title it takes place on the French Riviera. This was where the rich aristocrats spent their winters in the 1930s so I thought that Georgie should also have a little fun there. I read all I could about the English on the Riviera, then I went to Nice (I know, tough assignment) and poured through old travel books and photographs in the library there. I prowled the Negresco hotel and looked at their photograph collection. I checked old newspapers to see who else might have been on the Riviera at the same time as my heroine and found that Coco Chanel had a villa not far from where I intended to house Geogie. How could I resist a story with Chanel in it?
My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I read that Queen Mary had actually lent her niece Vera some of her own jewels for the models to wear in the show. What a perfect set up for a crime! And given my heroine's natural clumsiness what a delicious recipe for disaster!
So you see that sometimes we fish around in the dark, trying to turn that germ of idea into a story, and sometimes that story is handed to us on a plate. The Riviera full of naughty English lords and ladies, Coco Chanel, the Prince of Wales (and that American woman), the Duke of Westminster with his enormous yacht, Queen Mary's jewels and my penniless and disaster-prone heroine. How could I possibly go wrong?
Naughty in Nice comes out next September.
Check out Rhys Bowen on the web at her blog, Rhys's Pieces, www.rhysbowen.blogspot.com
Jungle Red Writers www.jungleredwriters.com
Order one or all from Rhy’s Lady Georgie Series at The Poisoned Pen
Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie