Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where do the ideas come from anyway?

Hi. I’m Renee Ryan. I write for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals. One of the first things people ask me when they find out I’m a writer is some version of “Where do you get your ideas?” The short answer is, “I don’t know.”

The long answer is: I get my ideas from everywhere—movies, the mall, restaurants, airports, seminars, workshops, driving in my car, a song on the radio, all sorts of places. Often the crazier the situation the more I start the “what if” game.

For instance, my idea for THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE came to me at an Old West exhibition in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A group called The Shady Ladies gave a talk on prostitution in the Old West. You might wonder what a nice Inspirational writer was doing at a seminar like that. Long story, one that involved a series of wrong turns. But once I was there, I decided to stay. What fascinated me most about this presentation was the instant sadness I felt for the women who chose that profession. Or rather, for the women who “fell” into that profession. There weren’t a lot of options for unmarried ladies in the Old West, ladies who, say, found themselves without money or skills or a man to protect them.

At one point in the presentation, The Shady Ladies discussed birth control. Obviously, there weren’t many reliable methods back then. Mistakes happened.

But what did these women do with their mistakes? There were options, of course. One was to raise the child in a brothel or mining camp or wherever the mother conducted her business. Another option was to send the child to a baby farm. Baby farms were homes usually run by former prostitutes who took in their sisters’ mistakes.

By the way, don’t you hate the word, mistake? Me, too!

Needless to say, the “what if” game took off in my head.

What if…a daughter of a prostitute vowed never to fall into the same life as her mother? What if…that same daughter decided to help other children avoid a similar fate? What if…this woman was a big thinker and wanted to do things right, even if that meant taking on a large debt? What if…she wanted her baby farm to be located in the richest part of town? What if…

Well, you get the idea. Bottom line, Charity House was born in that seminar and now I have a series of books about the men and women who live and work at this unique orphanage. From the start, I could see countless opportunities for God’s mighty work with these people. In fact, the possibilities are endless. And, Praise God, they keep coming to me as I sit down to write.

The heroine of THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE is the schoolteacher at the Charity House School. She’s trying to raise her little sister she had no idea existed until six months prior to the opening of the book. The hero is a lawman bent of seeking vengeance for his wife who took a bullet meant for him. His wife was the sister of the owner of Charity House and thus has a tight bond with the orphanage.

My July 2009 release, HANNAH’S BEAU, has a rebel preacher with interesting connections to Charity House. You can find out more about both stories and my other upcoming releases at www.reneeryan.com


Missy Tippens said...

Wow! What a great background to your story, Renee! So interesting. I've never heard of the baby farms. And such a great way to take a piece of history and create a series!

By the way, I love your new photo!

Renee Ryan said...


I hadn't heard of baby farms until that session either. I think the best part about what we do is finding story ideas in some of the most unexpected places.

I have another series idea percolating that centers around something just as obscure in Nazi Germany. We'll see...


P.S. the new photo was taken at M&M! ;-)

Caroline said...

Hi Renee. How interesting! Life must have been so cruel in the "old" days. Here in the UK there was the dreaded workhouse - think Oliver Twist. They were feared by all, and people would do anything to avoid going into the workhouse. How lucky we are today in this enlightened world we live in. Take care. Caroline x.

Renee Ryan said...

Hi Caroline,

Yeah, I think we're very, VERY fortunate to have been born in this generation. ;-)


Tanya Hanson said...

Renee, congrats on this wonderful series. I can't wait to read it. I love how you find your ideas so unexpectedly. And yes, when I realize how difficult life was for oure foremothers, I feel even more like a big spoiled baby.

See you!