Moana…. by Paige Toon
Book ideas can come from absolutely anywhere. My debut novel, Lucy in the Sky, was based on my personal experiences of feeling torn between two countries – Australia and England.
Chasing Daisy was inspired by my dad’s career as a racing driver and a particular crash he had when I was young in which he ‘knew’ he was going to die. He didn’t, thankfully, but the idea of a tortured heroine falling for someone who put his life at risk every time he went to work appealed to me.
One Perfect Summer was inspired by a song – ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele. She sings about an old love, hearing that he’s settled down, and hopes that he’s happy now. I flipped that and imagined what it would be like to be the former flame of a very famous person.
For Thirteen Weddings I was simply daydreaming about what life might be like for a wedding photographer who photographs the so-called Best Days of peoples’ lives, always being on the outside looking in. I adore a forbidden love story, so the notion of a wedding photographer falling for a groom was only a short step away in my overactive imagination.
Another time, I was in the middle of writing The Sun in Her Eyes and gearing up to a really climactic scene that I couldn’t wait to write. A friend was driving us to a book event and a couple of near misses in the car had me morbidly musing, ‘If I died in a car crash, would my publisher commission a ghost writer to finish this book?’ I thought, I’d be so peeved if they didn’t do justice to the love story that I’d come back and haunt them from the grave! I don’t write supernatural romances (not yet, anyway!), but the ghost-writing idea found its way into The Last Piece of My Heart.
My children have also inspired me. If I hadn’t just had a baby myself, Johnny Be Good would have probably had a different ending and its sequel, Baby Be Mine, wouldn’t exist. And you’ll laugh, but the idea for my new novel, If You Could Go Anywhere, came to me after watching a children’s movie with my daughter. It was Moana, the Disney flick – you’re laughing, aren’t you? – and I was sitting next to my seven-year-old, tears rolling down my cheeks, thinking about how this character had finally broken free in order to see the world. I was experiencing some serious wanderlust myself at the time, so the idea of a character who had never been anywhere but who had dreamed of travelling her whole life gripped me. The next thing I knew, a story had unfolded in my mind about a completely different heroine…
Angie grew up in a tiny opal mining town in the middle of the Australian outback. She spent her childhood and teenage years dreaming about following in her late mother’s footsteps, but when she was eighteen, her grandmother – the woman who had raised her following the death of her mum – was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Angie couldn’t bear to leave her so she became her grandmother’s full-time carer, and for the next decade, she was hardly able to leave her side.
We meet Angie at the age of twenty-seven on the day of her grandmother’s passing. In the pages that follow, Angie realises that she has family on the other side of the world in Italy and sets off on a journey of discovery, both self and otherwise, along the way meeting the most complicated male character I’ve ever written about: a gorgeous Italian named Alessandro.
When I told my daughter that I had come up with a book idea inspired by watching Moana with her, she giggled herself silly. But, as I say, ideas really can come from anywhere – it’s the author’s job to remain open to influences, even if they are a little embarrassing to admit!
Love P xx
If You Could Go Anywhere is out now in paperback and eBook!