Thanks for hosting me on your blog today. Whenever I’m on a panel discussion or a book signing, people always want to know where I get my ideas for a book. Ideas might come to some writers full-blown and completely plotted. I’ve never met one of these authors, but it’s possible they exist, somewhere.
Ideas are much more likely to come as a tiny gem that is expanded on by constantly asking “What if?” or that idea into a full-length novel.
The first book on my Occult series, The Secrets on Forest Bend, began when I wondered about the life of a gun−how did it affect the life of those who owned it? The hero in that book is a cop named Adam Campbell. Many readers ask me to write the story of his partner, Ruben Marquez.
I hesitated because I wasn’t sure what to do with a six-foot eight Hispanic guy. Then I heard a Homeland Security Agent talk about smuggling along the Texas/Mexico border. He claimed that many smugglers went to psychics to find the best time to make a run. Knowing that many psychics are witches, The Witch on Twisted Oak was born.
While writing Witch, I decided I wanted to do another book in the series, but I had already written about Adam and his partner. Who should be my next hero?
Both books featured a minor character, another detective in the squad, named Remy Steinberg. I left Remy a minor character, but gave him a few extra lines, a little more page time. Just enough so that he wouldn’t steal the show, but enough that a reader might say, “Oh, yeah, I remember him.”
Remy had a Jewish father and a Cajun mother. He was born in New Jersey and raised in Louisiana. I thought, I’ll bet Remy could get into a lot of trouble in Louisiana.
And that is how Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte was born. I didn’t have a plot or story line. I thought about Louisiana and what could be found there and came up with the bayou and voodoo. That’s all, I had to make a book from that.
There were several problems. Remy had already been described as short and a womanizer with two ex-wives and kids with different women. I had to redeem him to turn him into a hero. This process started in Witch when Ruben called Remy a good detective and wished he was helping on the case. Of course, Ruben didn’t trust Remy around his girlfriend.
How do you redeem an unsympathetic character? By making him willing to sacrifice his life to save his child and having him willingly face the one thing in life that terrorizes him. Tossing in an ex-wife who he still loves doesn’t hurt, either.
So, that’s it. You take one tiny little gem or an idea and keep working to expand on it, throwing problems at your hero, keeping the tension high no matter what the genre.
In Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte, Remy faces more than his share of problems−drug runners, kidnappers, hurricane force wind and rain, voodoo worshipers, and worst of all, his lifelong fear of the swamp. Let me know if you think I succeeded in turning him into a full-fledged hero.
Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte
Susan C. Muller
Genre: Paranormal romantic suspense
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: Jan 2 , 2014
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Rae Monet
A frantic phone call leads Detective Remy Steinberg racing through the night toward the one place he vowed never to return. With the life of his kidnapped daughter at stake, he willingly faces shotgun-wielding drug dealers, corrupt law-enforcement officials, and a raging hurricane.
Scouring the seedy back alleys of New Orleans for information, he goes undercover at a sinister voodoo ceremony, and struggles to understand the forces of black magic that hold his daughter hostage.
With time ticking down, he battles for his life against a high voodoo priest, but can he face the two things he fears most: the swamp that terrorized his childhood, and the ex-wife he’s never stopped loving?
Detective Remy Steinberg must return to Louisiana in search of his kidnapped daughter. Can he save her before the swamp swallows her up and he loses any chance at happiness?
About the Author:
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a fourth generation Texan and I attended Stephen F. Austin State University where I majored in Business Administration, but took creative writing classes on the side because that’s where my heart was.
I have always loved reading and if it’s true that God doesn’t subtract the hours you spend reading from your life span, then I should pass the century mark with flying colors. I first tried my hand at writing when I was eleven, but the sun was shining and I had a new bike so that effort was doomed to failure.
I didn’t try writing again until I was well into my sixties. People ask me why I took it up then and my answer is simple, because my husband retired. If you don’t understand, just wait, you will.
My first novel, The Secrets on Forest Bend, won several awards. After that, I was hooked.
I’ve been blessed with two great kids and four grandkids. My late husband and I loved to travel and we saw much of the world. Kenya, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands are a few of my favorite places. After he passed, I thought my traveling days were over, yet I’ve since been to Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.
I live in Spring, Texas where I currently serve as president of the Northwest Houston chapter of RWA and volunteer at a local hospital. I also enjoy speaking to book clubs and writers groups.
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