I’m working on writing a new book series. The first book releases this month. The series is called Holcomb Springs Small Town Romantic Suspense, and the first book is Beneath a Star-Lit Sky. I like how this series and this book show how long the creative process can end up being for me.
The compost pile of creativity
Before when I’ve talked about where I get my book ideas, I mention that I call it the compost pile. Any of you gardeners know about the magic of compost. You take a bunch of unrelated kitchen scraps—coffee grounds, carrot tops, egg shells, lettuce that went bad, rotten oranges—and throw them in your compost pile. With the magic of decomposition, in about a year you have something wonderful for your plants.
The creative process involved in writing a book is a lot like that for me. I get bits and pieces of ideas from all over the place—things I’ve experienced, places I’ve visited, a news story that stuck with me—and I toss them in my mental compost pile. When something has come together enough to actually be a story idea, it gets its own file.
Writing a book: ten years in the making
The germination of Beneath a Star-Lit Sky began at least ten years ago. I remember being on a long drive and talking to my dad on the phone and somehow getting on the topic of criminals in the wilderness, particularly the Sidney Poitier movie, Shoot to Kill. A lot of things can go wrong in the wilderness, and having a bad guy after you just makes it worse.
As I was writing and finishing up the previous series, In the Shadow, I wanted to write a book series set in a small town. I liked the idea of all the characters continuing to run into each other and being a part of one another’s lives, for good or for ill.
A change of scenery
My previous books had been based in the Southern California beach town of Laguna Vista (which also exists only in my imagination). But if you’ve read any of the In the Shadow books, you might have noticed that they made frequent visits to the Southern California San Bernardino mountains.
Since I grew up at the base of these mountains and spent a lot of time up there, could I figure out how to create a small town in the mountains? There are some up there, but I like creating my own so I can take liberty with things and not feel like I’m insulting any real town.
Pulling in some real-life history
There was an old gold mining town—Belleville—that used to exist in an area called Holcomb Valley. I imagined what would have happened if that boomtown had continued on to become a resort town similar to Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead. I liked the idea of having a small town on the edge of the wilderness with all of the problems and possibilities it can bring. And it was within driving distance of Laguna Vista, so all of our old friends could come up and visit.
So the compost pile came together to truly cause my story idea to flourish and blossom as I wrote a full-fledged book! Toss in a few previous characters, and I had a ton of fun thinking about all the possibilities while keeping in touch with old characters who have become like friends. I hope you enjoy what’s to come. It’s going to be an adventure!