As a writer, I get various reactions when people discover my “other life” writing novels. For as with a lot of writers, I do have a day job as well!
The most common reaction from friends is usually surprise and then after that inevitably come the questions. “Am I in any of your books?” or “Are any of your characters based on me?” is a common theme. No, I have to remind them, I write FICTION remember, it’s made up!
But one of the most frequent questions is, where do I get my ideas from?
As with most novels, Sex, Spoons & Salsa started its life quite differently to the finished product. Quite unexpectedly, my “Inspiration” for the book came in the form of the Irish World Cup Rugby team, who frequented my book shop many years ago when in Australia for the Rugby World Cup. They were lovely in a bruised, black-eyed, banged up, charming kind of way and they also happened to be the sweetest, most polite group of guys. Their accent sent anyone within hearing distance into a swoon and, well to say they stood out from the crowd was an understatement. Very quickly they’d attracted an almost a cult following among the females in town and I’ll admit I was one of them. My books, frequently begin with a random phrase in my head, and the phrase that gave “birth” to Sex, Spoon & Salsa was Oh my God, I wish I was Irish!
Weird maybe! But let me explain. Yes, I may be a terminally married woman (‘til death do us part, etc etc!), but I am not blind. I am also a strong advocate for “Thou shall look but not touch” to be written into modern wedding vows. But I’ll admit I was feeling a little bit on the guilty side for looking at the Rugby players like a starving woman let off a Weight Watchers diet for Christmas. So bring on the Catholic Guilt and the confessional box? Sadly no. Not being Catholic and therefore having no access to a confessional booth and a few Hail Mary’s to cleanse me from my mental indiscretions it got me thinking about the “Other” confessional. Therapy! And from those guilt-laced beginnings, the main character, Fiona, together with her disastrous life and wonderfully insane family were born. From there the characters themselves took me for a ride that was funny, insightful, sad and ultimately triumphant. To this day I believe once a writer creates the characters, THEY then write the story and the author merely writes it down. Yes, it may sound simple, but believe me it took quite a lot of hard work to transform the initial concept into something resembling a book, and although writing is essentially a solitary pursuit, most writers would agree that it wouldn’t be possible without people around you who believe in what you are doing.
Years ago, I was fortunate to be introduced to a lovely gentleman who also happened to be an ex CEO of a major publishing house. Our introduction come through a dear friend and wonderful author, the late Robert G Barrett who I got to know very well during my time running my book shop. This lovely gentleman became my mentor at a time when I needed some direction and encouragement, and I particularly remember him saying to me that it didn’t matter how many writing courses you took, you can’t teach someone creativity. You either have it or you don’t. I may not have been a particularly confident writer back then, but I did know I could create characters, stories and bring them alive. So when people now ask me where I get my ideas from, I can honestly say, inspiration is everywhere, you just have to grab an idea, run with it and see where it takes you.
Married, mother of one son and three daughters, Isla Dennes developed a love for writing while employed in her dream job as the owner of a book shop situated in a seaside resort town in NSW, Australia. Not content in simply reading every book in the store, she found herself compelled to create novels of her own.
Had she concentrated more on sales and less on writing she might well have retired a wealthy woman, but writing won out in the end, with the result being a lifelong passion for creative writing across a number of genres, including a brief but regrettable sojourn into horribly sentimental New-aged poetry which is best forgotten.