Deb Sarah on the 1940’s Print That (Partially) Inspired Her Novel

I can remember almost the exact moment when the idea for THE VIOLETS OF MARCH came to me. I was visiting my sister for Christmas in San Diego. My oldest son, Carson, 1 at the time, was crawling around the living room as my very-pregnant sister was pulling Christmas cookies out of the oven. I was sleepy—I hadn’t gotten much rest the night before with an excited baby in a new environment—so I hit the couch with my notebook (I am never far from my brainstorming notebook!) and let my mind wander.

I’d been mulling novel ideas for a while, but nothing had jumped out at me. My eyes darted around the room until they stopped at an iconic photograph my sister had hanging on her wall—the one of a sailor and his lady locked in a kiss after the second world war. Everyone’s seen this image, of course, and it certainly wasn’t anything new to me, and yet on that pre-Christmas afternoon, I let my mind consider what the real story might be behind the photo. Who was the sailor? The young woman? What was their story? And while my novel didn’t end up having anything to do with a sailor and his lover or their fated kiss, it did set my brain on an interesting trajectory of thinking about the 1940s, the war, interrupted love, second chances and more. After several rough outlines, I had the concept for THE VIOLETS OF MARCH down, and I always think back to that Christmas-cookie fueled brainstorming session on the couch where I gazed up at that print.

Funny how things inspire us when we least expect them too, huh? What unusual things have given you inspiration in life?

xo, Sarah

7 Replies to “Deb Sarah on the 1940’s Print That (Partially) Inspired Her Novel”

  1. I think this is a perfect example of how the muse can strike at the strangest of times, so it’s important to be ready and open for it.

    I once made the mistake of telling my editor I had an epiphany about a manuscript in the produce section of Whole Foods. Now she wants me to be there every time she calls, in case I get lucky again.

  2. I think it’s interesting how the initial inspirational object or moment doesn’t always end up in the story/novel but how it’s more the catalyst or the open door ushering us into the real story.

    I was once struck by how many people just walk past the Missing Children posters in those big box stores and I thought I’d write a story about that. Well, it ended up factoring into the story but the idea took a twist of its own and became “Poster Child” ( Love when that happens! 🙂

    (I’m looking forward to reading THE VIOLETS OF MARCH!)

  3. Great question! The idea for MAKING WAVES hit me after a sailing trip off Australia’s Queensland Coast and ended up melding with an idea about the crazy things people might attempt to regain their dignity after a job loss.


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