Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Post by Barbara Phinney: A Very Dangerous Occupation--Spending Time with an Author

Readers, it's my great pleasure to host Barbara Phinney today. Like myself, Barbara writes romantic suspense. But she also writes romantic comedy, which will be more than evident as you read this hilarious explanation of some of her book-related escapades. Take it away, Barbara!


It all started when I convinced my friend to sneak over the border in broad daylight.
And she did.
But she was caught.
Ahh, the things we do for a good story idea.

When I mention that I'm a writer, the first question is, invariably, "Where do you get your ideas?"

So naturally, I've decided to answer that question here.  (And maybe explain my opening sentences.) Here's the answer. There is no simple answer. Ideas, to writers, are as nebulous as mists and as concrete as, well, concrete. Ideas, those tiny kernels that eventually become novels come from anything from newsclips, such as the town deciding to take the law into its own hands, as in Deadly Homecoming, a visit to my sister's home in Colchester, England,  as in Bound to the Warrior, (March 2013 ), or as I eluded in my opener, sneaking over the border and getting caught as with Desperate Rescue.

And as I promised, I will explain my nefarious conduct. My family and our friends were over in Maine, at a Christian camp there, just after I learned that my Love Inspired Suspense proposal was accepted. Now I needed story stuff. And what better way than to actually experience it. So my friend, also a Barbara, and I took a short trip to see what the 'longest undefended border' looked like. Well, guess what?  It was just a wooden fence.

"Climb over it, Barbie," I suggested slyly. "I'll take a picture of you sneaking into Canada."
Well, sneaking isn't the right word here. Did you know they have cameras on the border?  And that a border guard can be anywhere within minutes? (I didn't)

Well, a very nice young man arrived, and as a 'slightly older' lady, I began to explain that I was a writer and began to pump him for information. This nice young man was patient, professional, and obviously wanting us to just climb back over and leave the area. We did, but I got what I wanted and so the story, Desperate Rescue, was born.

Now, sometimes, stories come from something as odd as a dress. All For A Good Cause, my wedding caper, began from a friend who belonged to a Society for Creative Anachronism and who once wore a stunning 13th-century gown, complete with all the appropriate bling. I envisioned my heroine in a long gown. And stifling in the summer's heat, for charity function.

With Hard Target, ( I found my story came from two sources.  Another friend worked as security chief at a South American embassy, and, years later, I had the honor of taking two mission trips to Bolivia. From those two unrelated incidents, Hard Target was formed.

So although writers get their ideas generally from one source, be it a setting, a news article or a personality, all writers will admit that they can come from anywhere. And what the most interesting part is, is that like a seed, the final product will never resemble that kernel of the first idea.

Which is probably a good thing, otherwise I'd be writing this from a jail in Maine.

Barbara's Links

Her blog: http://barbphinney.blogspot.ca/
Her website: www.barbaraphinney.com
Twitter: @BarbaraPhinney

KC: Thank you, Barbara! I loved hearing about where you the inspiration for your stories. Readers, if you have any questions for Barbara, or any comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Happy reading!


  1. What we do for the sake of realism in our books, is frightening sometimes.

    1. It really is, and Barbara has taken research to a whole new level :)

  2. Very informative, Barbara. You really are willing to go the distance for your research--or should I say push your friends to go the distance. All your books sound great!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Christy! I think I need friends like Barbara has :)

  3. Thank you! Christy, and what's more fun is having a good sport for a friend. .
    Kristine, thank you so much for hosting me.

  4. Ahaha! Brilliant to get your friend to do the dirty work. :)
    Seriously, I've loved all your books, Barbara. I think anyone reading the one set in Bolivia would know you'd spent some time there. It's so atmospheric!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Norah! And I agree, you can always tell when an author is writing about a place they know well.

  5. Thank you Norah. I want to add that the photo of the mountain and hut was taken in a moving car. I was just snapping away on zoom, and captured what I feel is the epitome of Andes loneliness. If you look carefully, you can see traditional Inca huts in the middle. They are round. It's one of my favourite pictures.

  6. How fun! I can imagine going with a friend and sneaking over the border like that. And of course, with my luck, I'd be caught. LOL I love people watching and making up stories about some of them. My stories usually start off with a "What if?" Great post, ladies!

    1. So glad you could stop by, Rhonda. Barbara is way more adventurous than I am :)

  7. Rhonda, yup, my friend and I still laugh about that. And like you, we did get caught!