When I write fiction, I begin with a spark of an idea and then the rest of the story grows around that. Cayman Cowboys was my first novel and really my first attempt at writing fiction. I was visiting Grand Cayman, conducting some training for local dive instructors, when a friend took me out to do a little sightseeing. After making a dive on the East End of the island, we stopped to look at the blow holes. Over the years, waves have eroded the iron shore—exposed and jagged limestone coral that now stands above the ocean surface—and when waves crash into the shore, water shoots straight into the air.
I remember walking across the iron shore thinking that if I fell, I was going to bleed. Heavily. And then I started thinking/imagining how scared someone would have to be to run across the iron shore and what it would do to them. That became the first scene I wrote for Cayman Cowboys. Afterward, I had to go back and get the story to the point that a girl would be so scared she would run across the iron shore and then had to create the story that came afterward.
Every one of my novels has that same sort of spark; a scene that literally popped into my head that caused me to start writing.
The following is an excerpt from my first novel Cayman Cowboys. It became the seed for the entire novel. It isn’t the key to the story (we don’t need a spoiler alert here), just where it started.
Suddenly, a loud crash echoed from an abandoned house directly behind where the men were meeting. They heard the sound of a young woman yelp in pain.
The thing is, there’s a spark in everything. Every project, every idea, everything you think about doing begins with a spark. The key to moving forward with anything is finding that spark, that idea that moves you and then building on it. Sometimes it will move forward in fits and starts and other times you will feel like you are going backward.