Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Elissa Ambrose talks about her voices, make that her tingles.

Yesterday I posted my thoughts on the very intriguing book, Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs by Elissa Ambrose. You can read those thoughts HERE. Today Elissa is here @ The Book Bag, answering my question about the voices in her head.

Great to have you here, Elissa. I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me.

When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?

To admit that I hear voices in my head would be to admit I’m schizophrenic. On that note, I’m happy to report that I do not hear voices, and neither do I. But I do get a tingle, sometimes down my spine but mostly in my stomach, whenever an idea hits me. It’s like falling in love but without the rash. Of course, the question still remains, where does the idea come from?

Let me tell you a story. (Oh, how I love saying those words!) A few years ago, I was driving my daughter’s old Chevy pickup when I saw a car that looked suspiciously like my Ford Taurus. But what was really strange (other than the fact that I was driving a pickup in the first place, not to mention why my daughter even owned one) was that the Ford had my license plate. Wasn’t my car supposed to be in the auto shop getting a lube job and whatever else cars got while being maintained? Maybe this is a test drive, I thought. If so, what was the driver doing in my neck of the woods? Did lube jobs even require test drives? What exactly was a lube job anyway? So I did what any normal Nancy Drew graduate would do—I chased my car. Down Phoenix’s Superstition Highway I sped, but the tired old truck couldn’t keep up, and alas, the carnapper got away. (Isn’t Superstition a great name for a highway? Gives a whole new meaning to Marvel’s Ghost Riders.) The next day I confronted the owner of the auto shop, who asked me if I could identify the driver. “By the way,” he said, “did you happen to notice if he had red hair?” Well! That question spoke volumes, and a funny little tingle ran through me. That tingle was the seed of my novel, Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs.

They say that life is stranger than fiction, and I agree. Here’s another example. I recently read a news item in Toronto’s Globe and Mail about a maple syrup heist that took place somewhere in Quebec. Apparently, more than thirty million dollars worth of the sticky stuff had mysteriously vanished from a warehouse. Now that’s a lot of syrup, I thought. The getaway car must have been massive. How could so much syrup get stolen without being noticed? Where were the maple syrup police when you needed them? Naturally, other questions followed. Is there a black market for maple syrup? Is maple syrup the new designer drug of choice? Seriously, what did the thief plan to do with it? How many waffles can anyone eat? Yup, there was that tingle again in the pit of my stomach (though I suspect it had something to do with the thought of waffles).

Bottom line, I get my ideas from the real world. The possibilities are endless, as we’re constantly being bombarded with images as we go on with our daily lives. Sometimes an image plants itself in us like a seed; sometimes it falls away like an unrecalled dream. Sometimes a seed takes years to grow into a story, as in Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs. Sometimes it never germinates at all, as I fear might be the case (actually, make that “cases”) of the missing syrup. That seed is called inspiration, and it’s entirely individual. Some writers hear voices, I get tingles. It’s as if my stomach has a mind of its own.

About the author

Elissa Ambrose was born in Montreal, Canada. After graduating from McGill University with a degree in English, for some strange reason she embarked on a career in computer programming. Seventeen years later, after an amicable parting with technology, she returned to her first love—the written word. First she was an editor at a company that produced educational material, and later at a literary magazine. Prior to Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs, she published four romances with Harlequin and several short stories. Along the road to publication, she raised two daughters. She and her husband now live in Arizona. (Yes, it’s hot. But it’s a dry heat, remember? And you can’t shovel heat.)

Connect with Elissa:

Twitter @ElissaAmbrose

Buy the Book!


  1. Thanks, Samantha! And here's a maple syrup update as reported in the Globe and Mail: “Quebec provincial police have seized hundreds of barrels of maple syrup from a New Brunswick business, telling the company that it was linked to an investigation into last month’s theft.” Apparently the amount seized was just a small portion of the missing inventory. It seems it remains . . . a sticky affair.


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