I rarely talk about the fact that I’m a romance writer (I’m working on that) but when it comes up, I’m almost always asked where I get my ideas. Sometimes I tell people I’m not sure. Other times I tell them I was inspired by another story. But what I don’t say is that a lot of the time, I, like most writers, stole them. Borrowed them, lifted them, you can pretty up the words however you want but the fact is I didn’t come up with the original idea but I sure wish I had.
Recently, I finally started reading the “In Death” books by J.D. Robb. They’ve been around for over fifteen years and at two books a year, it’s a big series. I started from at beginning and from the very first book I have been in love with Eve and Roarke. Mostly Roarke. I love him so much that I want to steal him for myself. Which is where I’m running into trouble.
Roarke is Robb’s creation and she did an excellent job. I could pluck him from her books and drop him into one of mine with a name change but I’d know that no matter what I called him, he would still be her Roarke. As a writer, that isn’t enough for me. I want my own Roarke. To add to the challenge, in order to make my own Roarke, I’ll also need to create my own Eve.
There are only so many ways to play with a stereotype. In this case the hero is obscenely rich reformed criminal. The heroine is a poor cop. Between the two of them they have access to high society, law enforcement and criminal elements. Those options open almost every plot door conceivable.
How can I take what I love about this couple and apply it to my own? I could make him the cop and her the criminal. No, too easy. I could have her out of the game and him still in it. Or vice versa. The opposite sides of the tracks thing has been done. The easiest solution would be to make them both rich, but don’t lower and middle classes deserve their own books? So many choices.
I need to find them occupations. The jobs not only have to suit the characters I’m creating, they also have to suit the stories I want to write. My Eve (name currently unknown) would make a great nurse but would that help the plot? My Roarke needs to have the money to give his lover the life she deserves but where does he get the money to do so?
This would be much easier if I were writing fan fiction and could stick with the canon that Robb has created. But again, that’s telling her stories, not mine. And my ego is big enough to want more than that. So I’m going to let the idea simmer and see if I can’t conjure my own roguish Irishman and have him whisper sweet plot-nothings in my ear. In the meantime, I’m going to reread the eight books I own for a second time, and possible then a third, before I shell out for the rest of the books in the series. Because, 1 – I’m not letting go of Roarke any time soon and, 2 – they are ripping good books.