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: