Q & A What is the Spark that Prompted Your Book
By Anne Beggs
June 16, 2023

The world of historical fiction is full of amazing, interesting, and fascinating stories. I often wonder what sparks authors to write the stories they do.  So, I asked four Paper Lantern Writers to share the spark that prompted their books.


Pamela Nowak writes about the American West and shares: For Never Let Go, my “spark” was actually more of a haunting. When I was twelve, my family moved to a town about seven miles distant from Lake Shetek. A friend’s father was a historian (and later, my high school history teacher) at Lake Shetek State Park and took us to visit the cabin sites around the lake. I was so intrigued by the events that happened there that I started to write a novel; I soon realized I wasn’t ready to do that then. But, during high-school and college, I researched all I could on the topic but put writing about it on the back burner when I married and raised a family. Over the years, the voices of the women involved in the incidents at the lake spoke to me constantly. I finally made a career decision to change genres so I could bring their stories to life. Without their haunting, I may not have returned to the idea. Sometimes, spirits truly are guiding.


Mari Christie writes of the American Civil War and a series set in Brooklyn, New York and says: The “spark” for me is frequently a family story. In the case of Blind Tribute, the book began with a mental picture of my mother’s great uncle writing at a desk. (No explanation of what he was writing until after I wrote the scene. He neglected to inform me that he’d moved himself in time by 70 years…) For the Lion’s Club series, the story landed on my father’s side of the family. My grandmother used to tell me about her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, and how her mother used to make homemade doughnuts (sinkers) she and her brothers and sisters would sell on the subway. This turned into a short story that grew into a series. (the desk appears in the cover art of Blind Tribute)

Mystery writer Ana Brazil shares her spark of inspiration and a treasured photo: I saw the movie The Great Gatsby (the Robert Redford version) the summer I turned 18, and Reader, I fell in love. Not only with the blonde-haired, jut-jawed Redford, but with the Charleston-dancing, cocktail-swizzling, speakeasy-hopping lifestyle of the 1920’s.

Suddenly I was crazy for everything about the Roaring Twenties: Agatha Christie murder mysteries; Art Deco architecture; Jazz bands; Tom Collins cocktails (gin only, please!); and last, but definitely not least, flapper dresses with “skirts that had twenty-eight slits”.

So, you can imagine my delight when my step-mother not only inherited the scrapbooks, recordings, memorabilia, and personal and professional photographs of 1910-20’s vaudeville songstress Elsie Clark, but gave all those goodies to me.

Fast forward a few decades, and Elsie’s scrapbooks, photos, and OKeh Records were just the spark I needed to write THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, the first in my Viola Vermillion Vaudeville Mysteries, to be released in October 2023.

And don’t be surprised if THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE introduces you to a blond-haired, jut-jawed protagonist.

Vanitha Sankaran’s award winning novel Watermark was sparked by her fascination with paper:

Paper has fascinated me since I was a child. In fact, many of my childhood pictures have me grasping a sheet of paper or sitting behind a typewriter. Originally traced to Asian and African cultures, paper came to Western Europe through Spain, which often changed hands between Christian and Moorish rule.

Frankly, the Catholic Church didn’t trust “infidel paper,” especially since they controlled the flow of information through the use of costly parchment. But then here came paper, which was far more affordable and offered the populace a cheap way to pass information. The idea of a literate public was a frightening thing to those in charge.

My novel, Watermark, explores these challenges through the story of how a mute girl, Auda, finds her voice through writing poetry on paper her father. But in my heart, the book is also the tale of paper itself and how it found a place in Western society.

All these authors educate and entertain us. What books have inspired you to dig deeper into the history?

You can find all our books here –

Blind tribute: *

Never Let Go: *

Watermark: *

The Red-Hot Blues Chanteuse: *


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Anne Beggs

Written by Anne Beggs

Anne M. Beggs writes adventure romance and family saga set in Medieval Ireland. She is a member of Paper Lantern Writers and Historical Novel Society. For about her books, mounted archery, and horses, please contact her on Facebook or Instagram @annitbella72

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  1. Jafe Danbury

    For me, my first book was borne of personal experience in a torturous–and not oft discussed–scenario. I wrestled with if I should tackle it and, if so, how would I present my survivor story. It took a great deal of courage to revisit the experience in order to write of it, but I’m glad I did. “If this helps just one person…” had become my mantra. The book, THE OTHER CHEEK, went on to win a Finalist medal for “Best First Novel” at the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I have since written two award-winning thrillers.

    • Anne M Beggs

      Wow, thank for sharing your journey here and in your book, The Other Cheek =—-> that requires such courage and resoursefulness.


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