Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

TRIGGERING THE IMAGINATION

By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky



I’m delighted to be a contributing member to the ‘Smart Girls Read Romance’ blog, and so glad you stopped by today. I’ve thought a great deal about what my first post should be about, and decided to focus on one of the most common questions that readers and aspiring authors ask me.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason to what inspires a plotline or story. The glimmer of an idea can happen anywhere, anytime – often when you least expect it. It could spark from seeing a street sign or (in my case) an old photograph of a little chimney sweep which compelled me as a writer (not to mention a protective mom) to research the outrageous practice of forcing small children to sweep chimneys, particularly during 18th and 19th century England.


The hopeless plight of these young children, and the knowledge of how dangerous and deadly their lives had been, prompted me to include this horrific practice in my award-winning first novel, The Sense of Honor.

Music also inspires me and plays an important role in the creative process while I’m writing. I know some writers who must work in complete silence, no distractions whatsoever. Other authors can write anywhere, including noisy coffee shops. I prefer solitude and always retreat up three flights to my writing loft in the attic. Surrounded by my research books, I light a scented candle and listen to music. Because I write historical fiction, I love listening to Baroque Classical or music from the time period in which my book is set. I also listen a great deal to motion picture soundtracks and have added quite a few to my library. Think about how much music enhances a film on so many levels. Well, I find movie soundtracks also help immerse me into the world of my book. Instrumental music brilliantly scored to embellish a film not only conveys various moods and even fears of the characters, but sets the tone for scene transitions, as well as the powerful, emotional, dramatic or very dark moments.


Very often places inspire a writer. For my latest book, a sensuous time travel romance titled Whisper in the Wind, the proverbial ‘what if’ idea that triggered my imagination happened as I rode a vintage steam train with my children from Grapevine, Texas to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. As we walked about the Stockyards, it was very much like stepping back in time. The seed of such a fantastic possibility blossomed into something so vivid in my imagination it had to become a book.

The Fort Worth Stockyards not only inspired Whisper in the Wind, it provided the starting point for heroine Molly Magee’s adventure through time. However, I still needed some device to initiate the process, something so powerful it would cause an unexpected chain reaction. I decided upon the ‘Irresistible Force Paradox’ where an unstoppable force and immovable object collide and conjure a compelling far reaching result.

Living in Texas where the weather can change dramatically in a matter of moments, nature would provide the irresistible force. I then needed to locate a seemingly safe, immovable object. The pieces of my puzzle came together when I found an abandoned subterranean tunnel in the Stockyards. Here is a photograph of that tunnel and an excerpt from a pivotal scene from Whisper in the Wind.


EXCERPT FROM: WHISPER IN THE WIND©

Dear God, please protect me and get me home.

At once, a peculiar calm settled about Molly. It may not have been the voice of God, but it gave her precious seconds to look for suitable cover. Spotting the wooden structure where old cattle pens and chutes led to shops and restaurants near the depot, she lifted her hoop skirt above her knees and ran. Before she could reach it, the wind returned as if mocking her attempt to find safety, battering the building with savage intensity.

Winding corrals and wooden pens, already a rickety labyrinth under normal circumstances, offered no resistance against the brutal force of nature. Aged timbers creaked and broke apart like toothpicks. Glass window panes shattered with terrifying ferocity.

Desperate, she looked about and spied an old three-sided wooden fence near a gnarled oak tree. Having explored every nook and cranny of the Stockyards as a child, she remembered what the fence once guarded.

Please let it still be there.

Debris sailed passed her head, prompting Molly to scream. She stumbled and fell several times, struggling against a malevolent opposing wind. When, at last, she’d reached the oak tree, hope blossomed in her heart. Although the fence quickly broke apart, faded red bricks still marked the entrance to the old Pig and Sheep Subway, a subterranean tunnel once used to lead smaller stock to underground holding pens.

With no other option for cover, Molly followed the descending path. At mid-point in the tunnel, she crouched down; her hoop skirt billowed like a graceful blue mushroom cap. There, shaking with terror, she covered her face with her hands and prayed.

The horrific sound of the wind seemed never-ending; the rumbling of a freight train always associated with tornadoes and something more—a disturbing and distinctive high-pitched whistle that penetrated her body and soul like a powerful current of electricity. The piercing noise, combined with an unrelenting pounding of the earth made it seem as if the world was coming to an end. Terrified the tunnel would collapse and bury her alive, Molly trembled—unable to move or dare open her eyes.

Caught in a whirlwind of death, and air so clouded with dirt she could barely breathe, Molly feared that just like her life over the past six months, she would die alone.



For more information about Whisper in the Wind, here is the back cover blurb.

BACK COVER BLURB:

When Molly Magee is suddenly swept back in time, she finds herself in the Old West with gunslingers, high stakes gamblers, Victorian ideology toward women, and a Pinkerton detective named Jordan Blake. As she tries to understand what happened to her and find a way home, danger seems to follow her at every turn. Survival is a daily challenge, but it's a hundred times worse when--to avoid answering questions from a persistent and seductive Pinkerton--she fakes amnesia. She soon realizes the biggest threat of all is the one Jordan Blake poses to her heart.

Jordan Blake has lost everyone he's ever loved. As a Pinkerton detective and former Texas Ranger, Jordan has become a cynic about people and justice, and is ready to walk away from a life that has lost its meaning. He never knew that a prayer whispered in the wind would bring him an angel of mercy, and a love he'd never hoped to find.

From the open splendor of 1885 Texas to dark decadence and murder in New Orleans, Molly and Jordan learn that when fate takes a hand, finding the love of your life is often just a matter of...Time.



Thanks for stopping by and remember to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed print copy of Whisper in the Wind. This sensuous time travel romance made its debut on Amazon's Best Seller List for Time Travel Romance Books and Time Travel Romance Kindle Paid. It is also available in digital format on Apple iBook/iPad, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, and Smashwords.


Ashley Kath-Bilsky is a best-selling, award-winning author of Historical Romance with Mystery/Suspense and/or Paranormal, Time Travel elements. She also writes Historical Gothic Young Adult fiction. For more information about Ashley, visit her at:
Website: www.ashleykathbilsky.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AKathBilsky
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Ashley-Kath-Bilsky/302554710513

40 comments:

  1. Great post, Ashley. I love visiting the stockyards. Interesting about inspiration, too. Wishing you continued success with your books.

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  2. Thanks very much, Caroline. So glad you enjoyed the post. :)

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  3. Very interesting inspiration.

    I follow via email

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  4. Ashley, great job on your post and very interesting subject. I love your pictures. Like you, I never really know what sparks my imagination to come up with a story.

    Geri Foster

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    1. Thanks, Geri. Writers are at heart a precocious breed of daydreamers, and I think the secret is to keep our minds open, and just keep asking ourselves, 'what if'. :)

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  5. I love time travels, Ashley, and this sounds like a great read! The excerpt was riveting! I also am inspired by visiting historical sites. In fact, my first time travel romance, Erin's Rebel, was based by my own experiences as a Civil War civilian reenactor.

    Your book's going on my TBB list. Best of luck with sales!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I am fascinated that you are a Civil War civilian re-enactor. I love events like that and, in fact, Whisper in the Wind's heroine Molly is attending a Pioneer Days celebration -- dressed in an 1860s period costume -- when she travels back in time...hence the hooped skirt. I would love to hear more about your experience. One of these days we need to talk. :)))

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  6. Fantastic job. I'll tweet once I'm out of twitter time-out.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Ella...and for the tweet. :))) You're awesome.

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  7. Great piece Ashley, I loved the photo of the tunnel. Good luck with your book. sasha

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    1. Thank you, Sasha. I appreciate the good wishes. :)

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  8. I'm always fascinated to hear how writers come up with their "portals" to another time. Such imagination. Very intriguing post to show us via words and pictures how you get your inspiration. Thanks!

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  9. Great post and great book, Ashley! Thanks for sharing your inspiration with us.

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  10. Ashley, this sounds like the makings for a great book. It is fascinating all the different ways a writer finds inspiration and how they all have their own preference for writing.

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    1. Hi Paty - Thanks, and I agree. I love hearing about how writers were inspired to write a certain story. :)

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  11. It's amazing how a writer can take a kernel of an idea and make it into a full fledged novel but you did it. I've ridden that train in the summer and it was so hot I couldn't think. It made me wonder how men and women tolerated the heat on those trains without air conditioning.

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    1. Actually, the heat factor did cross my mind. Little you can do to escape the heat nowadays. Thank goodness for air conditioning. At least we can get some respite. But I still wonder how my ancestors functioned, especially with propriety and how much clothing they wore. Thanks, Ruby. :)

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  12. I love time travel novels. What a novel place for her to experience a time shift. The tornado descriptions sound real, and unfortunately, Fort Worth has been the site of a tornado. Carolyn Rae Author, facebook, author of Romancing the Gold, coming soon from Noble Romance Publishing.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. Yep, downtown Fort Worth was hit several years ago -- but not the Stockyards area. I was just grateful that certain historical buildings downtown were not destroyed, although several other buildings had to be rebuilt. And I was very relieved the beautiful trumpeting angels on the exterior of Bass Performance Hall were not damaged. Tornado by-passed them. :)

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  13. I will be announcing the winner of the signed copy of Whisper in the Wind at 11 PM Central Standard Time tonight. :) And, remember, that everyone who posts a comment qualifies for the Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire HD that will be given out on June 30th. :)

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  14. Hi Ashley, I love time travel elements in historicals... your book sounds wonderful! What a great blog, BTW... cute graphic for Smart Girls Read Romance :-).

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  15. Hi JK! Thanks so much for stopping by and your comment. Since I usually write historical romances set in Regency England, I loved the time travel element and western setting for 'Whisper in the Wind'. It was also different but fun to write dialogue from a 21st century heroine sent back in time. Quite the adjustment for her. :))

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  16. Ashley, I, too, am a time travel fan. Love your excerpt and looking forward to having the time to travel with Mollie. Thanks for posting!

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  17. Thank you, Carra. Appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment. :)

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  18. Well, it is 11:10 PM PST and that means it is time to announce the winner of a signed print edition of Whisper in the Wind. Congratulations to...SUSAN MACATEE!! Susan, please send me your email address and I will contact you for mailing information. Thanks to everyone who visited Smart Girls Read Romance and remember, everyone who posted a comment is eligible for the Grand Prize drawing on June 30th of that Kindle Fire HD! So, keep visiting our site, learn more about our other contributing authors, and post a comment. :)

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  19. I didn't know there was a tunnel underneath the Stockyards. Beautiful cover, by the way.

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    1. Hi Angelyn - Thanks for visiting the blog. Yep,the tunnel was used to herd smaller livestock into underground holding pens. It's actually called the Pig/Sheep Subway. People rightly associate the Stockyards with cattle, but back in the day, the Stockyards also sold more than 50 million sheep and 33 million hogs, making it the biggest market for sheep and hogs in the Southwest. :)

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  20. Great post! Thanks for sharing where your story seeds come from!

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    1. Thank you, Meg. So glad you enjoyed my post, and appreciate your kind words. :)

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  21. Wow! Not only did you steal my heart with a Historical Romance, but then you added in time travel and suspense. Two more of my favs. I can't wait to read this novel. I would love to receive a signed copy so, YES, I would appreciate being on the list to win a copy!!! Really enjoyed hearing where your inspiration comes from. It's kind of like a painting from an artist I guess, they see every detail in a picture and put it on canvas. You see every detail in a story and put it on paper. Thank you for that. Yours, BookTiger

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    1. Thank you so very much for your lovely comments, BookTiger. I really enjoy storytelling and adding different elements into my books, so I am so touched by your words. You need to sign up for my mailing list at www.ashleykathbilsky.com. I have lots of giveaways there, too. :)

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  22. Ashley, what a nice overview on this whole thing we call creativity. It does come from everywhere, and the photos you posted are very intriguing.

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  23. Great post and perfect teaser for your book. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Thank you very much, Joan. So glad you enjoyed the excerpt, too. ;)

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  24. i have learned something from your share
    thank you

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Horse Paintings. I am so happy you found my post interesting. Please come back and visit our site again.

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