by Kay Springsteen
I just signed a contract on my fifth work with my publishing house, Astraea Press. This will be my fourth full-length novel there. What’s truly ironic about this particular novel is that it started out as a summertime weekly free read based on different weekly writing prompts a few author friends and I put together. Around the third prompt, the scenes I had written for the prompt took on a flavor, a style and a purpose. A story began to gel, and 80,000 words later, when I announced I’d completed it, my publisher asked to see the draft. WOW! The first, very rough draft went to her as requested and today she sent me a contract.
Now, I joined the writing prompt team for fun. I love the challenge of molding words and crafting scenes based on a prompt. We use one-object nouns as the prompt, and the word chosen must be used in some form in the scene we write. From the opening scene using the prompt “ice cream,” a good friend of mine, Kim Bowman (Wayward Soul, Astraea Press) kept telling me, “You have a winner here. Your characters are great. You need to stop using these scenes as summer free reads and just write the story.”
Of course, I scoffed. I hmmed and hawed. I didn’t see anything special at first. But then the characters developed more fully. I began to see a direction for them and a plotline began to develop. By the time we reached the fifth prompt, which was “cheese,” I was more than halfway into writing this book. Half pantsed (because of the prompts), half plotted, this was a new adventure for me, a devoted loose plotter. But the story moved very quickly. I felt almost driven to write it. My family and friends complained that I was quiet. They wondered if I was ill or if something had happened. In reality, this story was consuming me, demanding I write it.
It was an amazing feeling, knowing I was writing what would become a full-length novel, and it had all started with just the prompt of “ice cream.” I never know where my next inspiration will come from but never in a million years would I have believed a prompt about ice cream would be the start of Heartsent.
Readers: Does it ever interest you to know where the authors you read get their inspiration?
Writers: What’s the weirdest inspiration you’ve ever received and where did that particular inspiration ultimately take you?