“A picture can tell a thousand words, but a few words can change its story.” ~ Sebastyne Young
Pictures have been inspiring authors since, well, forever. I’d like to share a few that have inspired my writing. They’re definitely not what you might think…
This is a still shot of the ‘Jo’ character (played by Nancy McKeon) from the 1980’s hit TV show, ‘The Facts of Life’. This very still, from the opening credits of the show in one or two seasons that it ran, inspired me to write a piece of fan fiction that’s not available for public consumption – and it never will be. What I will tell you about it, you can read in this blog post, The First Lesfic Story I Ever Wrote.
Relic was a story that stewed in my brain for a couple of years but the setting eluded me until we, ourselves moved in late 2013 to the little village that we live in now. I was aware that people mushroom hunted in the wooded hills and forests around our little village before because my spouse grew up here and her family are all avid mushroom hunters but I wasn’t aware of just how popular it was until our wet spring of 2014. People were coming out of the woods with morels by the bucketful. The mushrooms themselves are what gave a name to my completely fictional village, Morelville, and one, similar to the one at the right (which is a photograph I have paid for the rights to use) is what adorns the cover of Relic. The one pictured just below is a Facebook meme that’s been making the rounds forever and a day. The original photographer/poster is unknown. It is a whopping big morel though!
Busy Bees is a story that carried my two leads from the first book forward into an all new adventure. The book gave them a vehicle to let the relationship between them develop a little bit. The hook for the mystery in the story that involves a guy who, among other things, keeps bees has a local origin of sorts. A frequent customer at my day job keeps bees as a hobby and to make a little money. His hives are ramshackle and all around his house right here in the village. One day he came in when another customer was also there and he whipped out a small album to show her some photos he shot of some bee keeping expo he went to overseas. I was amazed at his pictures and the passion of the people in them. They’re what inspired me to use a bee keeper in the second novel. The pictures aren’t mine and he hasn’t agreed to let me use any of them for this post. My apologies!
The area we live in has a high concentration of Amish families. A good friend and her spouse walk every day and she often carries a camera along. She caught this photo of an Amish carriage driver minutes after the rain stopped falling from an early spring storm that was quite heavy. The Amish don’t like to have their pictures taken for religious reasons. That’s why he averted his head from the camera. I actually know the young driver in the picture. He’s an Amish carpenter that lives about 1/4 mile from me. He, his brother and his uncle built the deck onto our home last summer by hand.
Yes, they dug and set 36 posts by hand then they hung support beams and laid the decking. Watching them and assisting them for a few days along with a couple of my nieces (who weren’t shy about shedding clothing around them during the heat of July build), gave me a little more insight into their lives than I already had and, frankly, I had quite a bit. Looking back on that experience and then seeing the picture above of our acquaintance headed out in the rain this spring changed the course of book three, Dana’s Dilemma. Instead of being just about a murder, it included an Amish element as well but – me being me – that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s one of those sweet Amish romances that even they sell in the stores they run. Far from it!
There’s a dam in Dana’s Dilemma too. I actually depict the very real Dillon Dam in Muskingum County, Ohio in the story. A picture of the real dam, an earthen one with a tower and a paved road that goes across the top is pictured at the right. The picture the artist used for my cover is of a cement and stone structure. Other than that the story details about the lake and the dam are pretty accurate except, if there is a path through the forest from the boat launch ramp, it’s not one I’ve ever been on and no mayhem, to my knowledge, ever happened there.
I’m currently working on Book 4 in the Morelville Mysteries series, ‘Hitched and Tied‘ which I hope will be released late this month. Part of the story line involves the doings at a local county fair. The photo at the left is actually of my own son and the show calf (Dairy Market Feeder) that he raised to show at the county fair one year. My son doesn’t appear in my stories but, otherwise, all of the realism of the livestock portions of fair week are from firsthand experience for him and I.