Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Puzzling It Out One Piece at a Time By Pam Hillman

Each story idea starts with one tiny little puzzle piece. Just one.

A word, a photo of days gone by, a scent, a location, an event. Before The Promise of Breeze Hill became the full-fledged novel that it is now, it was just a single thought to write about an indentured servant.

And, since I like to put a bit of a twist on my stories, I wanted the hero to be the one who was placed in this situation. Why? Fish out of water, maybe. Or having a character who can’t walk away, but then later doesn’t want to walk away.

To make matters worse, let’s indenture the poor guy to the heroine, and something in his past makes this a really bad thing. I just kept tightening the ropes on him. I also wanted my indentured servant to be an alpha male, with a take-charge attitude. More thinking outside the box made Connor a man who has already served a forced seven year indenture, but willingly indentures himself to help bring his brothers from Ireland.

Fairly quickly in this process, I made the decision to move the story to the late 1700s, early 1800s at the latest as indentured servants weren’t that common in the 19th century. Not completely unheard of, but not the time period we first think of for indentured servants. So, the 18th century is a departure for me as all my other published works fall between 1850-1890. How my hero ended up being Irish, I’ll not be knowing. It just is.

Then I needed to decide where to set this indentured servant story. More than likely, we think of indentured servants as in the New England states, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, etc. But I’m from the South, and New Orleans and Natchez are two of the oldest cities in the new world, so it made sense to plop my characters on my home turf.

What would make Connor so adverse to being under the thumb of a woman? What baggage and problems can I throw at Isabella Bartholomew?

The story just keeps growing, one puzzle piece at a time. And it started with the germ of an idea to write about an alpha male indentured servant.

How do you go about putting all the puzzle pieces together for your story?


CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.