For me, inspiration for stories comes from all kinds of places. It can be something I hear on the radio or see on TV. Sometimes it can be a conversation I’ve overheard. It can be a dream. Or it can be from my own real life.
Somewhere in Hawaii is one of those books, one that borrowed from my own life. From the settings, to the characters, to the things that happened… a lot of it came from my experiences.
The settings in the book were definitely taken from my own life. The small town that Harper was from was based on my own hometown in northern New York, complete with all of the small-town dynamics. That her troubles were known by anyone and everyone is a reflection of reality. My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all well-known lawyers, and growing up often felt like living in a glass house. I couldn’t make a move without everyone knowing about it!
Fort Drum, the post Harper is stationed at in the beginning, is barely an hour and a half north of my hometown. And years later, my husband was stationed there for almost eight years. Her next post was in Hawaii. I was stationed in Hawaii in the 90s, and it was like finding my soul home. Almost twenty years after I left, I came back when my husband got stationed here. He retired last year, but Hawaii is our forever home. So it was only natural that I set the book here.
The characters, too, come, at least in part, from my experiences. Like Harper, I was in the Army, for almost 14 years. Her parents, too, are loosely inspired by my own parents. Natalie, Harper’s childhood best friend, was not based on my best friend. Instead, she was a combination of several people, including some Mean Girl-types I knew.
But where the most of me comes in is in the storylines. The rumor mill that Harper faces in the beginning… that was me. It wasn’t about the same thing, but it was just as pervasive, more so. That was my life for the last year and a half of high school. And in truth? It still hasn’t ended. For me, it all started with two guys, one of whom had been my first love, the other his best friend. That best friend had resented me for being his friend’s girlfriend, had resented that focus of attention. I just never knew how deeply. I found out when he began to spread rumors of the worst kind for a girl, roping my ex into helping him. There was never one iota of truth to the rumors, but it is a sad truth that it is always easier to believe the worst than the best. Years later, it still follows me. So writing about Harper’s troubles with the rumor mill was very cathartic!
In the book, there is someone that doesn’t want Harper to find her happy ending. There are two antagonists, each of them inspired by events in my own life. One of them was loosely based on a man who harrassed me day in and day out for almost three years. It often felt that I couldn’t move without him there, watching. The other was based on a woman I knew years ago who made it her mission to do everything I did, from dyeing her hair the same weird color to reading the same books to dressing the same. Mind you… I was in my early 40s and she was only a few years younger. Weird. I never felt threatened, so it was the feeling of being watched that was my inspiration for Harper’s predicament.