Writing the Novel... Dianne Harman
One of the things I’m constantly asked from people who have read my novel, Blue Coyote Motel, is how did I get the idea for the book?
After writing Blue Coyote and my soon to be released book, Tea Party Teddy, I’m convinced there is no formula. Coyote happened in a strange way. I had always wanted to write a novel, but like so many people, I didn’t think I had the credentials for it. I hadn’t attended numerous fiction workshops or seminars; I hadn’t spent weeks at writing retreats, etc. My husband gave me Stephen King’s book, On Writing, which freed me from all the things which had held me back. King kind of says, like the Nike logo, “Just Do It!” But what to write?
We were at a wedding in October in the old section of Palm Springs, California, at a boutique hotel which had recently been renovated. It was 106 outside and the air-conditioner was silently wonderful. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel good’ drug in the air-conditioner and everyone felt good all the time?” He looked at me and said, “There’s your book.” I started writing on my iPad about ten minutes later. The first character was a salesman whose life was not going well. He stopped at a motel in the desert near Blythe. He felt much better the next morning after his time in an air-conditioned room. And so it went.
From there the characters seemed to be everywhere. At dinner a priest sat at the table next to us wearing the biggest gold cross I’ve ever seen. He became a character. The following night at the wedding dinner I was seated next to a couple from Brazil who owned gold mines. They became characters. Within a couple of days the rest of the characters appeared. The book took on a life of its own. I’m not sure whether I wrote it or chronicled it. If I had sketched it out in detail ahead of time, it never would have evolved the way it did. The characters seemed to tell me how it should go. It was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had.
While I was finishing Coyote up, I attended three receptions in Sacramento where my husband was a Senator. At all three of them I kept running into a new legislator who was the most conservative anti-illegal immigrant person I’d ever met. The more I kept thinking about him, I knew there was a story there and so I began to write Tea Party Teddy, the story of a fanatic who eventually loses everything. It’s a tell-all California political novel with an overlying love story. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
Now I’m convinced there’s a story everywhere. If you’ve ever wanted to write, “Just Do It.”