Where Do Writers Get Inspiration? | Laura Belgrave

For me, inspiration often comes from the unexpected. Take this horse, for instance. Understand, I live in a bustling South Florida urban area and narrowed down, my specific residence overlooks a community lake in a 55+ development. Yes, it’s pretty placid here. But the lake itself is filled with gigantic turtles, huge carp, a bunch of other fish I can’t identify, awesome storks, and, of course, loads of ducks. I love watching them all.

However, the one thing you wouldn’t expect to see here is a horse. And yet, one day recently I was sitting on the screened-in patio we have, chatting on the phone with an author friend in North Idaho, and suddenly, here comes this gorgeous horse. It wanders into the lake, because I gather horses like lakes. Me? I kept my friend on the phone, and shot out the screen door faster than Batman swooping from a 70-story building. Photos, my brain screamed at me. I must get photos!

Mind you, I have no earthly idea whatsoever about horses. Don’t know how to approach them. Don’t know what clucking or sounds I should make to ensure it understands I’m not dangerous. None of that bothered me. The thrill of the moment is all that mattered. I sat on the grass on the bank and look, look how close I got to getting that beautiful animal to come to me! (I had my author friend Dawn Keur, who most assuredly does know horses, on the phone and telling me how to advance toward it, what to do, etc.)

After the horse splashed around a bit, drank copiously from the lake water and began to approach me, more neighbors started to cautiously appear. I think that spooked the horse a bit, so it amicably got out of the lake and ambled to a nearby canal. (Wish I’d had a carrot to give it.) Presumably, the horse was headed back to wherever it came from, and you can be certain I followed as long as I could.

Someone called the Sheriff’s Department. Someone called Animal Control. The stunning horse ultimately was traced to a small barn or boarding area about a mile away, buried deep away from the major roadways surrounding our community. I know because my friend Marlene Passell, who also knows about horses and lives five doors away, leaped into her car to try and find the authorities and the horse, which she did. Marlene’s the one who told me the horse’s name is Betty, and that this wasn’t the first time she managed to get loose and go exploring.

Now after that story, you really think I won’t manage to finagle Betty or some horseback riding situation into my upcoming novel? (Currently, that novel is simply referred to as “Claudia No. 4,” since the others are already published: In the Spirit of Murder (still free), Quietly Dead, and Deadly Associations.) Can you tell I write murder mysteries with a pretty tough and savvy female cop?

All I know with certainty is this: That encounter, where least expected, gave me the high of my weekend and it will live within me forever. That’s how writers get inspired.

Ever Onward!
Laura Belgrave

P.S. That patch on Betty’s face? I didn’t know what it was until I asked Dawn. It’s some sort of mesh covering to keep flies and gnats off the horse, but the horse can easily see through it. Clearly, Betty had no problem with it.

Sneak Peek Into The Next Claudia Hershey Mystery | Laura Belgrave


Many of you have asked me when the next Claudia Hershey mystery will be out. Well, I can’t answer that quite yet, but I can share the opening scene with you. Have a look, you wonderful book junkies:


One week. It was only supposed to be one week, and yet the week had leached into yet another day. Claudia stared at her neighbor’s cockatoo, a large white-bodied bird with a yellow crest and faint yellow cheeks. It was swaying back and forth on a stick inside its cage, doing a cross between a whistle and undecipherable, loud squawks. But the cage wasn’t inside her neighbor’s house. Instead it stood on a large, mahogany cabinet that previously held clusters of work stuff and oddball art sculptures that Claudia found interesting.

    The bird, some 15 or 16 inches in length, was named Bandit and Claudia quickly learned why. On the occasions when she allowed it to fly freely around the house—which her neighbor Joy had insisted it must be allowed to do— it stole anything it fancied and could carry. Paperclips, coins from her dresser, her daughter Robin’s earrings and rings, a colorful flash drive . . . anything and everything. You’d find it later. Or not. And the bird was also indiscriminate about where it would crap. There were times Claudia wanted to pull out her .38 revolver and just shoot the thing.

    Had Joy been truthful, she would have explained the intense involvement a cockatoo required, especially attention. The bird liked to play. It also enjoyed harassing Robin’s calico cat, which her daughter had named Boo.

    So where the hell was Joy, anyway? Her last-minute call, made around the time Joy said she’d be home, was muffled and indistinct. Bad cell connections in Indian Run weren’t uncommon. The Central Florida community had grown slightly in population, but interests largely remained dependent on cattle ranches and farms with a variety of vegetables and citrus trees. Technology? Better than when Claudia joined the small police force nearly three years earlier, but not anywhere on a par with the glittery coastal areas of the state.

  From her neighbor’s call, Claudia gleaned only that it would be another day before Joy would return. One more day in purgatory with that insufferable, time-consuming bird. That, and oh yes, a fairly hefty caseload, though thankfully without any homicides.

And then the phone rang. Claudia glanced at her watch. Nearly six-thirty. Still early evening. Claudia picked up and heard Chief Mac Suggs’ rumbling voice on the other end. So much for a relaxing Sunday. 

    “Hershey,” he said. “Believe we got a homicide. A body half in and half out of a canal feeding into the No-Name Pond. Responding officer thinks it’s a male, but he isn’t sure. The head and then some is under murky water and vines. I want you to take the lead, so put on your party dress and get on out there.” He gave her directions.

“I hear you, Chief, and I’m out the door in two minutes. Tell the officer not to touch anything, but to keep any gators out of the way.”

    “Already done.”

    They hung up and Claudia glanced at the cockatoo, scribbled a note for her daughter telling her not to let the bird out of its cage, then put it on the kitchen table. All the while she prayed that the person in the water wasn’t a homicide victim, but merely a person dead by accident. She shook her head. Not likely.

    Four minutes later she was on her way.


Now all I need is a title. For the interim, I’m merely referring to the novel as Claudia No. 4. Original, no? Meanwhile, please share any feedback with me. I know where the story is headed, but I don’t have the engine built yet. I’m open to anything.

(Incidentally, people on my mailing list get alerts like this before anyone else, so if you haven’t signed up, please visit my website at www.laurabelgrave.com and get on board. I won’t inundate your email box because I only send emails when I have something to say, give away, or find something amusing I think you might enjoy.)

Ever Onward!

Laura Belgrave

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