When someone learns I'm a soon-to-be published author with Harlequin Romantic Suspense, the most frequent question I'm asked is, "Where do you get your ideas?"
The answer is simple. Lots of places! I can normally pinpoint exactly what set off a story idea or who inspired a character's traits.
Real life is a great source of inspiration.
I have a friend from another country who came to America, fell in love with an American man, and they wanted to marry. The American man and America was okay with it. The woman's family - who were royalty in her country - were not happy with the marriage. Her parents wanted their daughter to marry someone of her social and economic stature - and from her native country.
I have another friend in the opposite situation. She went to another country, met a man, fell in love. She wanted to marry him and bring him home to America. They married and then learned that America was not okay with allowing this man inside the border. He had committed a crime in his youth, and despite petitions and the amount of time that had passed since the crime, this couple had to jump through fire hoops to be together in America.
I was even-exchanging a shirt I received as a gift for a different size and due to the difference in tax rates, the balance was $0.05. I didn't have cash on me and was getting ready to charge the $0.05. The man behind me, a complete stranger, hands over the nickel. I turn to thank him and I find myself looking up at a tall, handsome paramedic with a 1000 watt smile. Hero material for sure.
I also get ideas from the news, music (especially country music), television, conversations I overhear, and nonfiction books (plenty of, "but what if such-and-such had happened instead?").
Everything goes into my mind, gets twisted together with my imagination, and out pops a book idea. Sometimes the idea is not complex enough to form an entire book and it gets jotted into a notepad text file and saved for later. Other times, it spawns a complete novel.
Where do you get your book ideas?