Guest Blog Post
By Kylie Logan, author of “And Then There Were Nuns”
If there’s one question authors get more than most, it has to be this–
Where do you get your ideas?
Sounds like that should be pretty easy to answer, right? But as I always tell readers when they ask, each idea for each book comes from a different place. When I first began the League of Literary Ladies mystery series, the idea for the setting (South Bass Island, three miles from the Ohio shore in Lake Erie) came when my agent and I were discussing interesting settings and she remarked, “People love to read about islands.” When I designed the book discussion group that my Ladies are part of, it was because I’d heard a story about a judge who was creative when it came to sentencing. A book discussion group for warring neighbors? Why not! At least in the mind of the judge who sentences them to a year of reading in book #1, “Mayhem at the Orient Express,” the group will give Bea, Chandra, Kate and Luella a chance to get to know each other and maybe–just maybe–once they do, they’ll turn from enemies to friends.
There have been two other League stories since that debut book, “A Tale of Two Biddies” and “The Legend of Sleepy Harlow,” and now, the latest League adventure has hit store shelves and I’m getting the question again–
Where did you get the idea?
I have to admit that this time, the idea started with the title, “And Then There Were Nuns.” Since the Ladies of the League read classic books and since the cases they investigate are based on those stories, it seemed like a natural. But of course, the germ of an idea does not a book make.
The plot was suggested by the Christie classic. The characters . . . well, in addition to the Ladies of the League, there are ten nuns on the island, and I had great fun writing them. Thirteen years of Catholic education and believe me, I’ve had plenty of experience with nuns.
Sister Liliosa who is the unofficial leader of the nuns is based on my elementary school principal. That Sister Liliosa was one scary lady! She kept us all in line, and shaking in our Buster Browns. I started there with building this fictional Sister Liliosa, but then I wondered (because all fiction writers spend a lot of time wondering), what was the woman really like, the woman behind the veil?
The Sister Liliosa I created is formidable, but she’s capable, too. She has a sense of humor (believe me, I never saw that from the original), and a heart of gold.
Another one of the nuns in the book is Sister Francelle, based on my third-grade teacher. Of course when you’re a kid, you think every adult is old, right? Not Sister Francelle! She was young and energetic and caring and I enjoyed bringing her into the story and imaging what her life might be like away from the convent as CEO of a religious goods company.
Sister Helene, who in the book is a musician, was named in honor of a history teacher at my high school who we were convinced was older than Moses and who not only gave As, but A++ to students she thought deserved it. On the flip side, she had the habit of banishing students to the “desert” (the back of the room) when she was displeased. Just for the record, I got banished once, when George Castillo and I decided to eat a pack of Smarties in class, a definite no-no!
So where do I get my ideas? Ideas are all around me. The real joy of writing fiction is plucking those ideas out of the air and building on them to create fictional worlds and fictional characters.
Do you remember your teachers fondly? Or not so fondly? Share your stories, especially if they’re about nuns!
AND THEN THERE WERE NUNS: League of Literary Ladies
by Kylie Logan, Berkley Prime Crime paperback,
March 1, 2016, $7.99. 291 pages