This is the second most unusual story inspiration source I’ve ever had. (The first was a commercial for a TV show.)
It was the day before Valentine’s Day. I remember this very well because
it’s Peter Tork’s birthday I was shopping for valentines when it hit me. Yep, right there in the middle of the Dollar Tree, inspiration struck. (What? Where do you buy your last-minute 50¢ Valentines?)
The piped music in the store turned to an old favorite of mine. As I browsed the valentines bopping along, I started thinking more deeply about the lyrics. The story behind the song is about a guy who wanted more of a relationship with this girl, but totally got “friend zoned.”
I imagined a guy sitting in a restaurant, checking his watch, waiting and wondering. Since it was Valentine season, I thought, What if the girl actually did like him? Wouldn’t that be tragic? What would keep this friend-girl from being there like a girlfriend?
And then my favorite what-if question popped up: what if she were a spy?
Bam. A whole scenario popped into my head (that now makes up almost a quarter of the book). I pulled out my brand new smartphone to make a note—and saw the reminder that my son was getting out of kindergarten early that day. As in right then.
With long lines at all the check stands, my only choice was to ditch the valentines and drag my daughters to the car to pick up my son. Fortunately, the Dollar Tree wasn’t far from his school, and I got there a little early. With those spare minutes, I pulled out my phone again and jotted down a note in my Evernote app so I’d have it when I got on my computer (as if I’d forget):
Notice the black bars? The original title of the project came from the name of the inspiration song, and the Evernote folder and the folder on my computer were the initials from that title. (Still are, in fact, though by the time I started writing I, Spy just shy of four weeks later, I’d changed to that title.)
I have never revealed the name of that song to anyone outside my family and critique group. And honestly, most of them don’t know it, either.
CONTEST CLOSED (but you can find the clues if you’re in my readers group!)
So here’s the contest! As part of my launch blog tour, each I, Spy stop will have a clue about the song that inspired the book! Mr. Nice Spy stops, not to be left out, have clues to another song, which I first heard immediately after finishing the first draft, and immediately claimed as the theme song for the novella.Look for the prizes, full rules, and first clues on Monday!
Oh, and since I know you’re wondering, we went back to the Dollar Tree and found my stack of chosen valentines.