Isabella Bradford Guest Post: Where Do I Get My Ideas?

In the second of what I hope will be a continuing series of guest posts, my friend/blogging partner/fellow historical romance author, Isabella Bradford, talks about the inspiration for her latest release, A Sinful Deception.  (Reader, I've just finished it, and can promise you a poignant, suspenseful, and extremely romantic story set in the gorgeous Georgian era.)

Welcome, Isabella!


Many thank to my BFF and fellow Nerdy History Girl Loretta for inviting me here to write a guest post for her blog. Loretta and I talk – a lot – and when it’s not the usual stuff about gossip, shoes, and food, we will marvel (and curse) at the mysterious process of writing. Between us we’ve written scores of books, and yet we still don’t have a clue how exactly the whole creative process works.

Take, for example, that age-old question posed to writers: where do you get your ideas? The smartie-smart reply is “Why, I get then discounted at!”, but the real answer makes about as much sense. We don’t know. Ideas just appear, or not, and there doesn’t seem any reasonable way to predict how, why, or when.

Take my newest historical romance, A SINFUL DECEPTION (on sale everywhere now, in paperback, eBook, and audio book). I’ve always wanted to write a book that includes not just Georgian England, but the farthest corners of the British Empire. My heroine, Serena Carew, was born in India, the daughter of a English nobleman stationed there. While Serena has spent most of her life as an English lady, her Indian heritage is impossible for her to forget – and it’s also one of the things that Lord Geoffrey Fitzroy comes to love most about her.

This heroine has been in my head for a long time. I didn't quite realize how long, however, until I started thinking about this blog post.

For my tenth birthday, I was given a copy of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett with illustrations by Tasha Tudor, first published in 1880. I know that precisely because I still have the book, and it's inscribed with the date and occasion. It instantly became one of my favorites, and still is. I have a great deal of company: A Little Princess continues to appear on lists of top children’s books recommended by teachers and librarians.  It’s been printed in many editions and languages, and has been adapted multiple times for film (Loretta remembered the Shirley Temple version), stage, ballet, comic books, television, puppets and even anime.

Of course my ten-year-old self was fascinated by the Cinderella-aspects of the story, with a heroine who goes from riches to rags to riches and endures abuse at a boarding school with plucky fortitude. But I was also intrigued by the idea of a girl my own age born in India, with tigers and elephants and men in turbans, being transported to live in Victorian London, and never quite fitting in. While the plot similarities between A Little Princess and A Sinful Deception end there, it's clear that Mrs. Burnett's story must have been hovering in my mind for (many) decades before I wrote mine.

Only today did I realize that the long-ago birthday present left one very sizable mark on my new book, and proves just how long an idea can simmer along. The name my imagination blithely gave to my heroine is Serena Carew. The girl in A Little Princess is, of course, Sara Crewe.