A question many authors are asked (and often hate to answer) is: Where did you get the idea for your book? I don’t usually mind answering this one, because I frequently know where the inspiration came from. However, it might sound peculiar to non-authors if I say that I once got the idea for a story by watching the water swirl in a mud puddle. That’s decidedly one of the more peculiar.
When it comes to Room 103, my newest romantic suspense, I remember well. I was staying at a small, privately owned motel in Pittsburg, Kansas, while visiting my mother and sister in nearby towns. As I was leaving the front office, I walked past a door that said Room 103. It seemed strangely out of place, because it obviously led to the owner’s apartment. Also, I couldn’t remember seeing a Room 101 or 102. With further exploring, I found them to be the lobby and breakfast room. That got the story tickle started.
A couple of conversations with an older man, who was back for his high school reunion, cranked up the tickle to a full blown niggling. That gets really annoying after awhile, when a story starts tapping at the inside of your head, at the base of your skull. Non-writers might not understand this, but every writer out there knows this feeling. Whether it’s a story or an article, it skitters around inside your head until you let it out.
My original thought was that a woman would come back for her college reunion and step into a mess, where here cop boyfriend would help her sort things out. Then I realized how terribly biased that was. I love strong female characters, and I have a bunch of them, women who don’t need their men to save them from the Big Bad Wolf, but don’t argue if they do. Why couldn’t the woman who was back for her reunion, be the cop who figured it out? But once her name popped into my head, I knew that Marice Houston had to be a Deputy Marshal.
As soon as she had a name, I had her description in mind—black, curly, long hair. Dark brown eyes, an olive complexion. Medium height, athletic, but voluptuous figure. A sharp wit, crack shot and a big gun, Marice wasn’t taking nonsense from anyone.
What kind of man could possibly pair up with a woman like that? That was a puzzler. I originally thought that she’d end up with the motel owner, a handsome, charming man with dancing blue eyes and a dazzling smile. She was tempted, but…. No spoilers!
The story grew from there, enticing me with the intrigue. Since I was traveling and don’t own a laptop, I had to write in a spiral by hand. The story came fast and furious, demanding to be told. I finished it shortly after I got home and it remains one of my favorite stories.
I don’t always like being asked about where my stories come from, because I don’t always know. But I will remember the origin of Room 103 forever more.
Below is a short teaser from Chapter Four of Room 103. The first football game of the season is one of the highlights of the reunion. Marice is there with her friends.
The game was a lot of fun. I didn’t care who was scoring, though our team happened to be doing okay. It was amusing watching our menfolk get so fired up that they started yelling. It was also funny to see the extent some people went to, to show their enthusiasm. One group had even made up a silly dance to the school fight song. As it played, they did the dance, waiting for others to follow. When we didn’t, they showed their disappointment by pouting and jeering at us. Someone threw a cup of red soda at them. It landed at their feet, soaking several of them. Things looked like they were going to get ugly, and the security officers weren’t close. One of the men, who was quite large and beefy, went after the woman he thought had thrown the cup. Her husband got between them and a fight started.
Scared people screamed, the opposing team’s players fumbled the ball, distracted by the noise. This all took seconds, but it seemed longer. The protective, law enforcement gene kicked in and I jumped up, dashing down the steps and across to the next section. The woman was clawing at the other man while her husband tried to punch him. Others were trying to get between them, including the other man’s wife. She took a sock to the chin right as I got there.
Things had ground to a halt on the field, the umpires having called a time out. One of the other spectators, who looked like he might be a cop, grabbed the first man in a choke hold. I grabbed the second man’s arm as he took another swing at the woman. His hand went behind his back. I yanked up and he screamed. I heard something snap, but that didn’t stop me. I hit the back of his knee with mine and he went down. His wife tried to hit me, wanting me to release him, but I turned so she punched him instead. The jerk probably deserved it.
Once the men were contained, the women started screaming at one another, but security had arrived by that time. Five big men joined me and my cop buddy, removing the rowdy attendees from the stadium. Taking stock of myself, I realized I’d torn my sleeve and my hair had come down, but otherwise I was fine. The cop had a slap mark on his cheek where the man’s wife had blind sided him.
“You okay, little lady?” his voice held a distinct east Texas twang.
“I’m fine. You look like you took a hit.”
“I didn’t move as quick as you. He was going for my nuts at the same time.”
“Got to protect the goods. A slap is nothing in comparison.”
Laughing, he held out his hand and pulled me into a hug. The audience went wild as our picture went up on the big screens in the end zones. The band stood up and played the fight song for us and everyone sang it, cheering loudly. The two teams clapped and cheered from the field.
The announcer got on the PA. “Now that the spoil sports are gone, how about we play ball!”
Another massive cheer greeted this announcement. The umpires blew their whistles and the interrupted play continued. I turned around to see my friends standing nearby, eyes wide.
Dellani Oakes is a happily married mother of four and a proud Nana to one beautiful granddaughter. When she isn’t hiding from the sun, in her Florida home, she’s leading a small writing group at the local Council on Aging, as well as hosting two talk shows on Red River Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio.
Dellani fell in love with the written word as a child. She originally wrote (terrible) poetry, followed by song parodies, and a few (intentionally terrible) songs. Once she discovered short stories and humorous essays, she had found her niche, until college. As a theatre major, she started writing plays. Later, after teaching A.P. English, she moved on to writing her first novel. It’s still unfinished, and may never see the light of day, but it put her on a new and exciting journey of discovery. Today, Dellani has 87 finished novels and novellas, and 52 unfinished.
Room 103 is Dellani’s second self-published works. The other is Conduct Unbecoming, which came out in 2014. She also has four books with Tirgearr Publishing.
To find more about Dellani and her works click on the following links: