We get asked that question a lot. We probably all have different answers. I’m not sure where some of my ideas come from, to be honest.
I remember first having the urge to write a novel when I was a teenager I didn’t have a typewriter and I didn’t have the confidence or life experience back then. It took many years of living before I actually started writing.
I was shy and fairly sheltered, but back in high school I started learning about things that surprised me. One of my teachers was arrested for statutory rape. The whole school was buzzing with gossip. This was a teacher who had taken the whole class on a bicycle ride field trip to a park and then to a house that he was house-sitting at for a friend. It turned out that the teacher was having an affair with a student and had taken her across state-lines. He was fired. I don’t know what happened with the charges.
Our school also had several ‘streaking’ incidents–a couple of students ran around the outside of the gym during a school assembly one time, others ran through the gym a few days later. I didn’t see any of the incidents but, again, everyone was talking about them. The thing that surprised me the most was learning that two classmates were raped (outside of school). One of them was a freshman and was a friend of mine.
I heard about drug problems on campus, too. Whether that was the reason we had two vice-principals, one for the girls and one for the boys, I can’t say.
Even with all that, by today’s standards, I guess it was a safe school.
Years later, I heard stories about terrible things happening in schools both near where I lived and far away. A few years after we moved away from Littleton, Colorado, I was stunned to hear about the Columbine High School shootings.
I guess all of that worked together to give me ideas. Those of you who have read my books know that I often have teachers in them. In Liars’ Games, much of the book is about a troubled high school and the teachers who work there, especially the principal who has her own personal demons to deal with as well as the school’s demons.
I write about things that interest me, but I don’t know everything that I need to know to bring the stories to life. That’s where my research comes in. Fortunately for me, I love doing the research! I hope you love reading my books.