Today we have Kimberly Dean here to talk to us about her most recent release, Solace in Scandal. This book pits a heroine and hero together who have some pretty big odds to overcome, and I wanted to know what exactly inspired this idea. Take it away, Kimberly!
What inspired you to write about a hero and heroine who had to overcome such a huge history?
Readers always like to know what inspired a story, and sometimes writers can point to one source and say, “It was that!” Other times, it’s like a puzzle that comes together one piece at a time. That’s what happened with Solace in Scandal. The idea didn’t come to me in a blinding flash of insight. Instead, I found a corner piece here and an edge piece there…
The gathering of ideas actually took years. I remember writing my gothic novella, Everlasting. It was very moody and had a certain angst to it. I wanted to write more in that vein, but the original idea that came to me was very dark. I had the characters who ended up being Alex, Elena, and Bartholomew, but they were tied together in a very different way. I also had the setting. I could picture the old mansion atop the hill, the woods that filled the property, and the deep, foreboding lake. I heard Nickelback’s song, “Savin’ Me,” around that time, too, and it helped the story take shape. It was all about the mood and the feel, rather than the actual plot. In the end, I had bits and pieces for a very dark romance.
It was so dark, though, that I didn’t know what to do with it. I jotted the ideas down in one of my trusty notebooks and moved on to something else. The concept sat there, quietly waiting in the back of my mind.
Then came the day when I was talking with my editor at Mischief about what I should write next. He was looking for something specific that he couldn’t quite describe, yet the keywords he threw out really resonated with me. “Emotion, sophistication, powerful, sexy.” For some reason, I also lumped “dark” in with those words.
He needed a proposal rather quickly, but it was with some hesitation that I pitched my shadowy idea. As I’d thought, it was too dark – but he loved the overall tone and moodiness of the piece. He gave me some feedback and asked me to work on the concept some more.
That’s when I stepped back and really looked at the puzzle pieces that I had. The characters were rock solid. They weren’t changing. I loved their motivations and how they were so intricately linked together. Alex and Elena were simply too hot as a couple to change. I also wasn’t messing with the setting. I knew that old mansion on the hill with all its echoing chambers. I could envision walking through the forest and hearing the autumn breeze rustle the leaves. What really needed to change was the main conflict the characters were facing. It needed to be something bigger, something that couldn’t escape attention. With the story set in New York, the idea for a Ponzi scheme finally hit me and then the familial connections. White collar crimes are devastating to the people involved, but they tend to be less dirty and messy. There’s a bit more distance there. The conflict gave me a lot to work with, especially the ramifications of how a crime like that affects family members, but the overall tone of the story wasn’t so sinister.
That Ponzi scheme was really the key piece of the puzzle, that one in the very middle. It brought everything together, yet allowed the story to focus on the love developing between Alex and Elena. They had so many obstacles to overcome, yet those very obstacles are what allow the reader to root for them.
In the end, I’m really happy with the way the story turned out, and I’m glad I took the time to put the puzzle together. Instead of forcing together pieces that didn’t quite fit, I waited until I found all the right pieces. The final result was truly a story about two people finding solace in one another during hard times.
So that’s the long answer to your short question. Sometimes inspiration isn’t tidy. I just hope that when people read Solace in Scandal, they’ll agree I kept all the right pieces.