IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Welcome Headline Review saga author, Muna Shehadi...

Where do you get your ideas?  

That Question again . . . It’s very reasonable for people to want to know, but to authors the answer is obvious.  We look for stories in everything we experience.  If I see two people talking in the street, my brain—subconsciously—starts providing context, conversation and conflict.  Until people started pelting me with That Question, I assumed everyone did this.

But let me aim for a deeper answer here, one I can use when next asked, though if I deliver a 500-word essay, I’ll drive whoever it is to gin.

The initiating moment of writing a novel is the “what-if” question, which sometimes appears randomly, sometimes pops out from a conversation or an article.  Experience has taught me which ideas are unlikely to sustain a whole book and which are intriguing enough to spark not only a plot and roster of characters, but also interesting and sustainable conflict, plus larger themes worth exploring.

As if that wasn’t enough pressure, the idea also has to intrigue others, and the concept must fit into the current market—different enough to seem fresh, but not so different that it tips toward the bizarre (I have lots of those).

Some people are better at the marketable aspect than others.  I have a friend who comes up with about one brilliant idea a month, which makes me want to smack her.  For me they are tantalizingly hard.  I’ve written books I absolutely love, but:  “See, there’s this woman who once . . . no wait.  Before that, she . . .”

However, for my Fortune’s Daughters trilogy, it all came together.  I started with: What if you found out your mother couldn’t have children?  Researching infertility, I stumbled over a condition called complete androgen insensitivity.  Women with this condition look totally female (clothed) with feminine curves and features, but they have no female reproductive organs.  In fact, they are born with undescended testicles that have to be surgically removed. 

This find gave rise to a raft of interesting questions.  What if this woman, born in a hybrid body, was a glamorous movie star, the on-screen epitome of female beauty and sexuality?  How would she handle the condition publicly?  (If you guessed she wouldn’t, you’d be right.)  How would that in turn affect the three very different daughters she never told weren’t hers?

Over the course of Private Lies, Hidden Truths and Honest Secrets, one book from each daughter’s viewpoint, I explored the mysteries, comedy, romances and unexpected emotional connections the plots made possible, but also dove into important issues (all with a light touch—I am genetically incapable of writing dark stories).  What defines a woman?  Her sexuality?  Her physical self?  Her ability to bear children?  Is a woman without female body parts truly female?

Very nice Muna, but you still haven’t addressed That Question. 

Oops, sorry.  But . . . maybe the better question is: Where do you get the ideas that turn into books?  I’ve decided it’s the same boring answer that applies to just about anything: a combination of nature, luck and hard work.  Not sexy, certainly nothing new, in fact, an all-around disappointment.  But it’s the answer I’ll give from now on, since someone will be sure to ask!      
Muna Shehadi got her start in this nutty business writing romance as Isabel Sharpe.  She grew up in Princeton, NJ, has a house on the coast of Maine, and currently lives in Wisconsin, all three of which places are prominently feature in her Fortune’s Daughters trilogy—an amazing coincidence.  For more information and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow her on various social media platforms, visit her at While there, feel free to send questions or comments via the Let’s Connect tab!

Private Lies

The three daughters of Hollywood A-list couple Jillian Croft and Daniel Braddock grew up as quasi-celebrities, even after their mother’s tragic death. Years later their world is overturned when they stumble over a document suggesting Jillian was unable to conceive.

Olivia and Eve insist there’s some mistake, but quirky, impulsive middle sister Rosalind can’t ignore facts.  Rosalind has always felt separate from her poised, successful sisters.  If she has a different birth mother, she must know.

Investigation leads her to Leila Allerton, an opera singer from New Jersey with a vibrant, close-knit family Rosalind aches to join. At first its members warmly welcome their new neighbour – but circumstances and personalities soon clash, leaving a bewildered Rosalind unsure how they’ll react to her true reason for seeking them out.

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