This morning (Wednesday, actually) a friend of mine posted a picture of her rhododendron in full bloom and said, “I swear they burst into bloom overnight!” I have rhodies – I understand.
But it’s the same with story ideas.
I was at Malice Domestic at the end of April when they put out their call for their next anthology, Mystery Most Geographical. The premise, if I remember the wording correctly, is that geography must play into the story. Okay, interesting idea. That night, I was talking to my roommate about it and I mentioned that I lived in Puerto Rico and St. Croix briefly after college, working for the government. “Oh, I bet there’s a story in that,” she said.
The seed was planted.
I’ve continued to water that seed in the weeks since. What on earth could I write about? What kind of issues and plots would need that particular geography?
I had some time this morning. Puerto Rico has some drop-dead (pardon the pun) locations for murder. Beaches, mountains, even a rain forest. Hmm. It’s a very traditional society, one rooted in their cultural traditions while trying to be part of the 21st century. Hmm. It was twenty-odd years ago, but I remember debate over whether Puerto Rico should push for U.S. statehood, stay a commonwealth, or push for independence. Was that still the case? Hmm.
The shoot of the seed pushes through the dirt.
I dug up information on locations, superstition, customs, and the independence debate (which has kinda died, actually, with only 5.5% voting for independence in the last referendum, but I digress). I looked at pictures – and I’ll have to get my hubby to dig out my photo albums tonight. Lush forests. An observation tower. A Nuyorican (that’s someone from New York City with Puerto Rican heritage – sidenote, did you know there are more Puerto Ricans in NYC than in San Juan? True story – or at least it used to be and I see no reason why it should be different now) homicide detective who is back on the island for a little R&R unravels the connection between some apparently random deaths.
I’ll continue to care for my seed, because of course the blossom isn’t the end. It’s still unfurling and it may turn out to be pretty ugly – or it may die.
But the seed has definitely bloomed. Overnight. Just like my rhododendrons.