I am often asked where I get the ideas for my novels. Honestly, they come from my warped mind. They come from life or the possibilities in life. I people watch. I create backgrounds for some of the people I see. They become characters. I read, read, and read more.
I knew for my first book that my main character was going to be a librarian. I have two handwritten starts that went nowhere. As it turned out my librarian died in the first few pages. Not at all where I was starting. Sometimes you have to let the story tell itself.
In my second book I was given three words to use in the first sentence. I started with my arsonist watching his handiwork from a place above the fire. My lead investigator was on the ground. Many people who read the book thought for a while that they were one in the same.
In my third book it was the setting that was the start for the story. Imagine that I would write about a school. With a few minor adjustments, the school in my story was my elementary school. You would have to know me well to have known that.
For my current novel. I have used a family name for my main character. Since this character is the hero I don't think there will be any objections. The idea was to introduce a town and some characters and make it a three book series. I started with a cold case that went places even I never dreamed. I also started by taking a room description I wrote as an undergrad and making it better.
Characters become real to a writer. Yes, I have conversations with them. We even argue. My characters have to stay true to who they are. Sometimes they take me in directions I never even consider. If it works, all the better.
I try to take on subjects that could happen, that might happen, that have happened in some way. I have murder, arson, stalking and and cold case. In the second book in my series I am taking on bullying when it gets to the stage where things are illegal. I have no idea yet where the third book will take me.
I went to Texas for inspiration. I don't know if I found it but time will tell. I've been to Arizona and New Mexico. I've traveled in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. So far none have made it into my books, but that doesn't mean they won't. I take photos of every place I go so I can refresh my memory if I choose to write about them. My hotel room in Scottsdale, Az. I even took photos of the beamed ceiling and the stocked fridge. I took photos in my Aunt and Uncle's bed and breakfast. Places need to be authentic. I will use the photos if this is the type of room or place I need.
Write your ideas down. I have journals full of ideas. Some might even make it into stories. Some may not. The more you have the more chance you have of using them.