Author Allison Brennan Shares About Writing & Inspiration

Hi, y'all! Today's guest is Allison Brennan, the New York Times and USAToday bestselling author of seventeen romantic thrillers and numerous short stories, including the most recent IF I SHOULD DIE. I'm fortunate to know her through my Kiss of Death RWA chapter and have taken some wonderful classes with her. Allison is a generous spirit who willingly shares insights and advice from her years of experience, and encourages younger writers. Thanks Allison for joining us!

I’m often asked where I get my ideas. This question always surprises me. Where don’t I get my ideas?

Ideas are everywhere. They come from the smallest snippet of a conversation overheard at Starbucks, to the most widespread news story of the day. My stories are a compilation of many different sparks that ignite my muse as it weaves together the possibilities.

I see a man in line dressed in a suit with a briefcase. Is he going to work? A job interview? Did he pretend to go to work so his family wouldn’t know he’d lost his job? What’s in the briefcase? Maybe he’s a divorce lawyer. Or a prosecutor. A defense lawyer with evidence of his client’s innocence locked in the metal case.

Or perhaps he’s a desperate man. His daughter’s been kidnapped and inside the case is the ransom money. He’s not buying coffee, but leaving the case to be picked up. Or there’s a bomb in the case, and he doesn’t know it. Or he does know it, and he has a vendetta.

So many possibilities.

I read books and articles about the multitude of people who risk their lives for others, and I want to celebrate them and their sacrifice. I greatly admire those people who serve others, particularly when they are fighting for justice. This is why most of my heroes and heroines are in some branch of law enforcement, though I’ve also written about ex-military, P.I.’s, and even a few not in public safety.

I’m also inspired by survivors. Victims who defeat all the odds to reclaim and rebuild their lives. I want to know how, and by writing survivors into my stories, I can learn how strength of character, family, and community can help victims not be victims forever.

Every-day heroes inspire me.

I also want to know why. In real life, too often justice is not served. In fiction, I can tip the balance of the scales on the side of justice, that the bad guys will be caught, that victims will get the help they need, that people will be saved. While a lot of bad things happen in my books, and sometimes to good people, in the end, the villain always gets what’s coming to him. My hero and heroine always get their happily-ever-after. Families always get answers, even if the answers aren’t what they want. In the end, there is resolution and peace.

Some authors are inspired by people. Some by music, and still others by the beauty around them. Take a moment to write down ten people you admire and why. Music you listen to while you write. Places you visit that calm you, where maybe your best ideas come to you. Once, a quote I heard gave me just the snippet of an idea, and that idea became the backbone of each character’s backstory. That quote? “Life if the sum of all your choices” by Camus.

Look at the world around you. You can’t help but be inspired.

 You can visit her on the web at, follow her on Twitter
@allison_brennan, or check her out on facebook.

Tomorrow book three of her Lucy Kincaid series goes on sale! Check out the cool cover:

Allison is giving away a signed copy of the first book in the series, LOVE ME TO DEATH.  To win leave a comment about what inspires you + your email (for contact)!
 Good luck :D


  1. Great post, Allison! And thank you for answering questions and sharing your experience and insight on various blogs and loops.

    I love to write and read stories about survivors. They inspire me. Woman who have suffered a devastating blow, entered that dark tunnel and came through into the light.

    I look forward to reading the next chapter in Lucy's life.

  2. Thanks Jerrie! And thanks Mina for hosting me today :)

  3. I have to agree that Allison is not only a gifted author but a very giving one. It's Allison and other authors like her who inspire me.


  4. I like where you get your inspiration, Allison. I'm a newspaper reporter and aspiring romance writer. I am inspired by everyday people I interview, such as the mother whose son was senselessly killed and on the 4th anniversary, sent out messages on balloons telling parents to cherish their kids because they don't know how long they have.

    And the woman who lost her grandmother and mother to cancer, survived it herself and now has a daughter who tests positive for the breast cancer gene and is getting everything surgically removed, to be safe. Their courage amazes me.

    And the woman whose child was mentally challenged and raised him and had all the neighborhood kids over constantly, parenting them too, so he'd have friends and a full life.

    I guess you touched a nerve this morning. :)

    I'd love to win your latest book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

  5. Thanks for visiting & sharing everyone!

    @cathy: Wow. Being a journalist sometimes is hard because you the raw, unpolished reality...and you meet some amazing people. I love my day job too.

  6. Excellent information, Allison. And thank you, Mina, for hosting her. There are so many things that inspire me....

    I'm inspired by couples who love one another unceasingly, despite terrible tragedies...or even just through the disposable mentality of the world we live in....

    I'm inspired by stories of soldiers who face down death to save a fallen comrade, or stranger....

    I'm inspired by children who see an injustice or a need for action, and take the initiative to right the wrong they see....

    I'm inspired by anyone who seems to always get the brunt end of what life has to offer and still faces every day with a smile on their face and a passion for life in their hearts....

    I love to find inspiration all around me, but this requires looking to be inspired. It's amazing, but you will find whatever it is you are looking for, be that inspiration or exasperation.

  7. Great post. I got my last story from history, but I winnowed out what events I used from historical accounts by taking only those pieces that inspired me: courage, self sacrifice and intelligent insight. The first two were so copious in the historical documents of my events, they inspired me to tears before I ever wrote my fictionalized version. How could I not write about such a topic? Thanks for reminding me to look for such strong emotional reactions. It's what's lacking in the current wip. ;D

  8. @Dyanne -- thank you!

    @Cathy -- wow, what amazing stories. While I focus on crime and punishment and cops in my books, I too am inspired by the selfless acts of others. Thank you so much for sharing these stories! Maybe you should write a blog for Mina!

    @Laurie -- I remember when my oldest daughter, at the time 10 or 11, stood up for a very overweight girl at the school by inviting her to her birthday party when no one else would. My daughter still fights for the underdog and stands up for people when no one else does. Especially the junior high age group that can be full of mean kids.

    @Victoria -- Good luck with your WIP!

  9. Great post, Allison. I loved the part about the man with the briefcase. It's so much fun to look beneath what's on the surface and ask "why?" which usually leads me to a "What if?" Everything inspires me, but I'm really drawn to mysterious things. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Super post, Allison. I have a small notebook that I keep with me where ever I go, and jot down notes of interesting people and places, that catch my writer's eye.

    It's so bad that when I'm out for a family meal and I reach into my purse - my family moans, "Who are you writing about now?"


  11. Let me just say: I'm loving the conversation here :)

    Reminder: leave your e-mail with your comment for a chance at Allison's book!

    Thank you again for sharing your stories :)

  12. Hi, Allison. Love your post. I'm inspired by people who can survive despite overwhelming odds. People who stand up and say they'll make it, no matter what. Sacrifice and courage make for exciting stories.


  13. What a great post. I loved your quote - Look at the world around you. You can’t help but be inspired.

    The world is so busy these days that many of us forget to look. We're too busy running past.

    All the best with your new book, Allison.

  14. Allison, thanks for sharing today. Yes, curiosity is the source for ideas. And having a slightly twisted mind helps.


  15. Allison, your books are so intresting and realistic. I admire your writing and thank you for sharing your inspirations. Dreams are often great places to find inspiration for writing.

  16. Great post Allison. You're right inspiration is all around us.

  17. Great inspirtion, Allison!
    I've heard you talk at a workshop in RWA National and you really know how to rev up the story with just the right elements! I sometimes do the 'what if' in my head too... I'm glad I'm not alone!
    My debut novel, DUTY AND DESIRE, Contemporary Women's fiction (with an international twist) comes out on Dec 1... so excited to share the good news with you!
    Anju Gattani

  18. Ooops... my email address:

  19. LOVE the Camus quote. And your muse and mine must be related! It is always nice to see my process validated. Thanks for sharing with us today. I feel so wonderfully blessed to be just beginning to take part of such a generous profession called authors. Denise Barker @

  20. What inspires me is when people transform. And this I write about.
    I would love to win your book Allison.


  21. Thanks for the informative interview. What inspires me is when I read other authors' great and exciting books. Then I want to write something that will bring joy and entertainment to people also.

  22. Looks like a great read!!

    My inspiration comes from those around me. I'm pretty new to writing, I enjoy writing short stories....some based on true stories..other pop up from conversations with friends/family. I've also recently started writing articles for a local online magazine...inspiration for those come from things going on in the area.

  23. Thank you everyone for your contributions! I think people who are inspired by others tend to be happier, better people all-around.

    @Anju -- I'm glad you enjoyed my workshop! I submitted two for RWA this time around, but they didn't pick one last year, so I'm not holding out hope this year. However, I pitched NO PLOTTERS ALLOWED which seems to be a popular presentation (and one I love to give!) picked VICTORIA DIXON! as the winner. Victoria, please email and I'll send you a signed copy of LOVE ME TO DEATH, the first Lucy book!

  24. I haven't read one of her books yet, but I do have one on my iPod.

    I'm also a member of KOD. *waves* They have some amazing online courses (I've taken four this year). Now I'm sorry I missed out on Allison course last month.

  25. I am inspired by my family: they say write about what you love, but I like to merge that with what my family loves. So my first manuscript was for my 11-year-old and featured talking animals. My second was about teen theatre for my 15-year-old. My next will be about the music industry, for my husband. And so on!

  26. I know your book win because its ideas and knowledge guide you properly and also tell us how write stories and solve exams thanks for share it coaching dissertation .