Pictures in My Head, by Jane Porter

by Jane Porter, author of The Fallen Greek Bride (Harlequin Presents, March 2013)

Last year I wrote 5 books.  It was a lot of writing in one year, and now this month, February, I have three of those books out…all in one month.

People assume its easy for me, writing.  It’s not.  But once I have an idea, that little whisper or tease of a story that comes to mind, its all about fleshing it out into a vivid, emotional, passionate page-turner.

 So where does that first whisper of a story idea come from?  Magazines!  Pictures. I’m truly visual and most of my books have been inspired by either a single photograph, or a montage, which is why I adore Pinterest.  I’ve created my own visual boards for every book, from the very beginning. I need a visual board to help me get the pictures in my head right, so the words can follow.

A true magazine junkie, I tear them apart, using photos, ads, articles to

organize my thoughts, inspire characters, create a vision in my head with weight, texture, mood, color.  I subscribe to a dozen magazines and destroy them in long sessions by ripping out page after page and then file them for the future.

Some of my best research and freshest ideas have come from these magazines:

1)    People Magazine (especially the annual issue of “Sexiest Men”)

 I love a physical, sexy, sensual, smart hero.  I love both American and international heroes, and so for great faces, not to mention lots of attitude I turn to People features like “Hottest Import from Chile”, ”Sexiest Internet Mogul”, ”Sexiest Philanthropist”.

2)    The Wallstreet Journal, particularly Friday’s Weekend section

 My first Presents, The Italian Groom, featured an Italian vintner living in Napa Valley.  The Wallstreet Journal not only gave me my information on the Northern California grape industry, but it also introduced me to a grape blight, the Napa social scene and a small winery’s expected profit margin.

My current mini-series, The Disgraced Copelands, came from a series of articles on the latest horrific Ponzi scheme, and the first book, The Fallen Greek Bride relied heavily on the articles I read about how the Ponzi scheme happened, the players involved, and the devastating consequences.

3)    Vanity Fair

Some of the most interesting, informative articles about interesting, powerful people are here.  I use Vanity Fair’s pictorials and articles to inspire stories, as well as flesh out characters and details.  Vanity Fair published several articles about families impacted by the last big Ponzi scheme, and reading about all of those hurt, seeing their faces, understanding their shock and anger and anguish added layers to my story.

 4)    Town & Country

Town & Country loves the beautiful people, the beautiful lifestyle, gorgeous clothes and jewelry and travel, and I subscribe for the fashion, the features, the images and portrayal of luxury which is part of the fantasy of a Harlequin Presents.

 5)    Sports Illustrated

I swear by the in-depth athlete profiles featured at the back of each issue.  The articles are beautifully written, moving, and insightful.  I’ve learned a lot about tough men, loving men, and broken men.  These guys, nearly all Alpha males, dream big.  They’re not perfect but oh, how they try.

And then there’s my new love, Pinterest.

You can see all the inspiration for The Fallen Greek Bride there,, as well as my boards for dozens of other Harlequins.  I love creating by pictures.  It’s fun.  It’s beautiful.  And it just feels good!

Are you on Pinterest?  Or are you a magazine junkie?  I’d love to know what puts pictures in your head!

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Comments ( 43 )
  1. Janine Rowe
    February 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I love the way you take all of the ideas and bring it into one incredible story. I love the way you write as I can visualize being where the story takes place and how attached I become to each character. I can’t wait to read The Fallen Greek Bride.

  2. nova c.
    February 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I love using pinterest to put gather ideas/pictures to match what’s in my mind. And I can organize my pins to what I want by making my own boards. I still love magazines. I cut/rip stuff out of them all the time. I put them on a clipboard until I can organize them in a notebook or binder. (I remember my sister and I gluing pics from magazines into notebooks when we were younger.)

  3. Jennifer Bates
    February 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Congrats. I am a major book reader. I always have my nose in a good book. I thank all of you guys for writing these great books. Keep it up.My life would be pretty boring without all my books. LOL.

  4. Melba
    February 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Jane, I found your post so inspiring. I love to use pictures to inspire my writing. Your work is a great influence for me to keep striving for success in my writing career. I’ve recently signed my first contract for a full length romantic suspense and had a short story included in an anthology. Keep up the good work, you blaze the way for the rest of us.

    Melba Moon
    Nothing Wrong with Country–Carousel Deja Vu- Gilded Dragonfly Books
    A Matter of Trust-TBA-Renaissance E Books

  5. Sarah Kuzma
    February 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Jane, I love the Pinterest boards. I love knowing who you are thinking of when you develop your characters. And the settings you envision! It’s like a mini movie, but you get the detail of the book!

  6. Marlene Engel
    February 25, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I love pinterest and use pictures to inspire me too. I love looking at the pics that inspire Jane and seeing who she has in mind for certain characters in her books 🙂

  7. Rita Luken
    February 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Wow that is very interesting..I always wonder how authors get their ideas..I teach small preschoolers and I use pintrest to help organize my ideas..i think is the awesome!

  8. Cindy moody
    February 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I think using Pinterest is such a great idea. I love to hear how you write. I’m glad you have those stories in your head because I love to read them!

  9. Kimberly
    February 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I am only recently using pinterest, but I love magazines, and I love little snipits I get from the yahoo page. This was great info into how you get your information and visualize the characters. I loved your boards on pinterest. I have read all three of your books out this month and they are all so differently and each one is awesome!

  10. Cindy Perra
    February 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I (heart) your books!

  11. Teresa
    February 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Jane, what an amazing woman you are and what amazing tales you tell us!! I am a huge fan!!

  12. mary hay
    February 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I love your books and think it’s great that you can write them from pictures in your head.

  13. Kristin Haskins
    February 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    This is very cool! I never stopped to think about how writers get some of their ideas. I need to go check out your Pinterest next! 🙂

  14. Margo Seymour
    February 25, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve done goal boards for years and then got away from them. Our conversation at tea yesterday about cutting out magazines and using Pinterest reminded me to get back to it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  15. Kerry Croucier
    February 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I love reading your books! It is interesting how you get your ideas and make the books so real. I love The Good Woman, and your earlier connected books. So hard to choose a favorite!

  16. pearl
    February 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    A thoughtful and informative post. Enjoyed learning about the background of your creativity.

  17. Kelli McElreath
    February 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Love your use of pictures on Pinterest for your books. So cool and I totally can see the image you will or are creating. Love it!

  18. Timitra
    February 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t use pinterest…reading puts pictures in my mind!

  19. Patricia Aman
    February 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Jane, I admire your talent so much. If you ever need characters for a book, people watch at Wal-Mart, any airport and/or the beach!! LOL

  20. Kirsten
    February 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    It’s a cross between magazines and Pinterest. I am becoming more and more dependent on Pinterest however I still fall back on Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire for household and fashion ideas. MC also covers a surprising amount of women’s issues.

  21. Jennifer
    February 25, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I have toyed around with Pinterest a bit. I love magazines! However, the ideas that I am working with for my writing come to me in very, very vivid dreams. Is that weird? I don’t know. Jane, whatever you are doing is working wonderfully! I love your books and tell everyone else about them. Your posts do inspire me to put my vivid dreams on paper and work them out to a great story. Lots of love!

  22. Camilla
    February 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I love your ideas! I am visual myself, so I picture your books in my head…can’t wait to look at these mags and “see” them that way too!

  23. Sharon A
    February 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I love Pinterest. I’m a photography junkie, so any magazine that features photos does it for me. I love the year in review editions of everything. And I love the emotions a well done picture can evoke. Time and National Geographic both do great photos of locations and people. Once upon a time I wanted to be a photojournalist, just so I could go to all the places that NatGeo profiled.

  24. Bridget O'Neill
    February 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve often wondered how authors get their ideas-now I know how one of my favorite authors gets hers! 🙂
    I’m a total magazine junkie-and I get almost all of them from the library! So many magazines, free for three weeks! Not a big Pinterest person-I’ve joined, have a couple of boards, but I haven’t been on in ages! I think I’m just afraid I’ll spend too much time there!

  25. Melanie
    February 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Jane, I love your books and it was great meeting you yesterday in Denver! I had a great time 🙂

  26. jdh2690
    February 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Yes, I’m on Pinterest! I love collecting things I see and putting them into groups to look at “whenever” I want to dream a little. My main interest is in beautiful landscapes because I would love to travel to far off lands…and reading romantic stories allows me to travel in my mind. I sure do like your pics for heros on your Pinterest boards!

  27. Shari
    February 25, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Love your books. Love your pics on Pinterest.

  28. moosehog83
    February 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I think pictures inspire everyone whether its ideas for gardening, decorating or writing and then where they want to travel , what car they want to buy or even inspiring them want to be like the person in the picture….and for those who can’t see we have people like you and other authors who inspire by words and descriptions, ect.Even if people don’t realize they are being inspired by the picture. As for pinterest…Nope…lol

  29. Suzette Temple
    February 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Pinterest. It has to be getting at least as popular as Facebook! Very interesting to hear how you flesh out your ideas.

  30. Denise Cornish
    February 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Just started using Pinterest. Will have to check yours out. Really enjoyed your article. Love your books!

  31. Quilt Lady
    February 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I usually don’t read many magazines. I am a big book reader and can picture scenes in my head. I love your books they are awesome.

  32. Elizabeth Langston
    February 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I can never seem to grasp those little wisps of ideas that pop into my head. They just float away…

  33. Cindy C.
    February 25, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    What a great look into your writing process. I get most of my ideas from reading. I love your pinterest board. I think it’s great that you can layer ideas like that. it makes for great books! Please keep up the good work.

  34. Ann M
    February 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I use magazine pics & articles, small odd things from the newspaper, and sometimes my own pics (like strange buildings or gardens).

  35. Sandy M.
    February 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jane. I love your Pinterest boards.

  36. Ginger Robertson
    February 25, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Jane.
    Amazing what can be learned, i.e., me by reading your post. You by going through magazines pulling articles and information from WSJ.
    I don’t have a Pinterest account and I’ve not been to their website. I would think that if you wrote 5+ books in a year, this would be super helpful for you.
    Thank you for your time and contest.

  37. Annie West
    February 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Jane – how fascinating! I’m a visual person too but I tend to find my magazine reading sparks location and story ideas rather than characters. Maybe I need to expand my horizons! I’m currently getting the Architectural Digest which shows some amazing places to live but I’m especially drawn to photos of fascinating scenes and outdoor places where I can imagine my characters. I’m in awe of your 3 books out this month. Good on you! Lots of reading coming up.

  38. Xoun J.
    February 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Wow you’ve been working hard! Congrats on your books. I don’t use pinterest. I get most of my imagination from music. Every song has a different meaning even if its about the same thing. i.e. Love. Each song gives me a different vibe. And the pictures in my head are never the same for each song.

  39. Elisabeth Ringvard
    February 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    My favorite Harlequin Presents is Jane Porters “taken by the highest bidder”. I just loved that story.
    I’m on pinterest but also love an old fashioned board to but my ideas on.

  40. Kim Cruz
    February 26, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Thank you Jane for always sharing with us. It is truly amazing that you are able to create your stories by looking at photos in magazines!

  41. Melanie Milburne
    February 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Jane,
    I am a magazine junkie too. UK Hello is a favourite. The celebrity gossip, the locations, the houses and the exotic holiday locations give me lots of inspiration.

    Great work on 5+ books. Seems I’m not the only writaholic out there!!!

  42. Marcy Shuler
    February 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Jane,
    I’m not on Pinterest. I read a lot and just visualize from that.

  43. Linda Henderson
    March 2, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I love Pinterest, I enjoy pinning some great pictures on there. I’m a lighthouse junkie so I search for great lighthouse pictures and I pin them on my board. I also like finding new recipes and pinning them there.