Make lots of time to gossip with your friends … and then use that as material. By which I definitely don’t mean lift their secrets and life stories and put them straight in your book – that’s a sure-fire way to lose all your mates in one go. But the subjects and questions that keep you chatting into the wee small hours often make brilliant themes for books, because they touch on the issues and passions that are shared by readers. Whether it’s what counts as infidelity, what happens when the oil runs out or which celebrity is using an injunction to cover up an affair, the topics that get you talking are rich material, whether you’re writing romantic comedy or weightier women’s fiction. Ask yourself what if your characters had to cope with the sticky situations that get you and your friends most fired up – and use it as an inspiration for your storylines.
Kate Harrison’s latest novel, The Secret Shopper Affair, came from her own experiences of mystery shopping – and the craftiness craze among her crocheting friends. While her first young adult novel, Soul Beach, was inspired by her own time on social networking sites – and asking what if there was a website where dead people could hang out with the living. Kate’s website is www.kate-harrison.com.