This Friday, I depart for a research trip in Scotland. Much of it will be family-history related, but not all, and I’m excited about the other parts, too.
Two years ago, I spent the last two nights of a brief trip to Scotland staying in the guest house in the picture. It was an absolute refuge, following as it did on the heels of the Very Worst B&B experience I have ever had. (A small example? Check out the robe hanging on the back of the door, sporting hair from at least two different people and stiff, crunchy terry cloth from oily, yellowing ring-around-the-collar. It was one of the least offensive parts of the place.)
The last place, on the other hand, was amazing, and both nights I was there I spent ages chatting with the delightful owners in the guest lounge. The first night, it was just us, all the other guests being out for a wedding rehearsal, and our conversation was wonderful. At one point, the landlord said, “This is going to end up in your next book.” We laughed, and the conversation went on to something else.
I didn’t think about it again until I was on the plane on the way home, when a new novel idea started brewing, triggered by that very conversation. I was working on something else at the time, so didn’t get to start it right away, but now, I’m close to having a completed draft of a novel set in a fictional version of that house. It would never have happened without that conversation.
This trip, I’m spending the first two nights there, and with any luck, the owners will be in so I can tell them about their inspiration and that soon, with any luck at all, what started as a genuinely relaxed, enjoyable conversation over a drink will have sparked an idea that grew into a full-length novel that I’ll be handing over to my very patient agent.
People ask all the time where writers get their ideas. We aren’t kidding when we say “everywhere.”