Please welcome my guest Heather Weidner to Discover Yourself. Heather, where do you get your story ideas and inspiration?
Thank you so much for letting me visit today. I write mystery novels and short stories. And I’m often asked about where my ideas come from.
I write what I know and where I know. Most of my short stories and my Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series are set in Virginia. I’m a transplanted beach girl from Virginia Beach, but I’ve lived in Central Virginia since the early ‘90s.
The people and landscape are diverse. We have large cities, vast stretches of rural areas, mountains, and beaches. And we have over four hundred years of American history – a setting ripe for interesting characters, murder, and mysteries.
My characters are made up, but if friends, family, and coworkers look closely, they’ll see phrases and idioms that they frequently use. Sometimes, I’ll even merge the characteristics of two or three real people to make an interesting character.
My sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, is a private investigator, and she makes up personas for some of her investigations. I use names of friends and family for aliases, police, and waiter names. And I’ve been known to pay homage to my favorite authors and pop culture icons in minor character names.
I keep a small notebook with me wherever I am. I jot down notes, snippets of dialog, and great names. As I do research, watch TV, or people-watch, I’m on the lookout for ideas and interesting activities to add to my stories.
My short story, “Spring Cleaning” (Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II 2016) came when we moved our offices at work. The moving company brought in large rolling bins for packing, and that gave me idea for some office spring cleaning when I realized the bin could hold a body.
Sometimes, I get ideas for crimes and capers from real cases, but I usually take liberties with the details. In my short story, "Washed up," (Virginia is for Mysteries 2014) a beat up suitcase washes up on Chick's Beach, and it's filled with some mysterious contents. Back in the ‘80s, there was a real case where suitcases filled with body parts did wash up on beaches along the East Coast. In my story, I thought it would be interesting for beachgoers to find something old and sinister in an unexpected place.
I am fortunate to be the daughter of a retired police captain. He is my best law enforcement resource. He answers all my weird questions like, “Daddy, what does a meth lab smell like” or “What’s the best way to dispose of a body?”
I also found an amazing tribe of writers with Sisters in Crime and Guppies. They are a wonderful group of sisters and misters who are so generous with their time and advice. My local chapter has great programs. We frequently bring in law enforcement, writing, and publishing subject matter experts for seminars and workshops. Last month, author Jeanne Smith presented “Body Disposal Workshop for Writers.” She is an amazing resource, and I have pages and pages of notes for the next book.
My story ideas come from a variety of sources. And you never quite know where your next bit of inspiration will strike. Happy reading!
Secret Lives and Private Eyes is a fast-paced mystery that will appeal to readers who like a strong, female private investigator who has a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations. Business has been slow for PI, Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star, Johnny Velvet. Could the singer whose life was purportedly cut short in a fiery car crash still be alive? And as if sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed strip club owner, hires Delanie to uncover information on the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out the connection between the two cases before another murder – probably her own – takes place.
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II. Currently, she is President of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, and a member of Guppies and Lethal Ladies Write. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Visit Heather at www.heatherweidner.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Website and Blog: www.heatherweidner.com