Thank you so much for inviting me here! Funny you should be blogging recently about inspiration and where it comes from yourself—that's exactly what prompted me to be so long-winded today! I do hope all of you will bear with me. I tend to be a wee bit, er, verbose about things I feel passionate about. :)
Inspiration strikes in the strangest place, and usually at the most unexpected times. For example...
No one who's caught an episode of Restaurant: Impossible would make the mistake of calling Robert Irvine a sap. He's much too forceful, too mouthy, too opinionated, too stubborn, and too impossible to please, too—ah, yes, you get the picture. The list of Robert Irvine's charms goes on. And on. They are, after all, a large part of what makes this show so fascinating. That he is also tall, brawny, lethal in his intensity and easy on the eye, simply plays to his strengths and show's advantage.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, next Wednesday night at 9pm (EDT) tune in to The Food Network and catch an episode of Restaurant Impossible (http://www.foodnetwork.com/restaurant-impossible/index.html). Now in its second season, the show is a relative newcomer to the world of reality television. (This one, by the way, is a la Gordon Ramsey of Kitchen Nighmares fame.)
The show's premise in a nutshell: Restaurant: Impossible challenges its host, the intriguingly gruff-yet-somehow-oh-so-personable chef Robert Irvine, to take a massively failing restaurant and turn it on its ear. Offering help are two what I like to refer to as “accomplices”. First there's a can-do-anything-in-a-pinch, even tempered man who's obviously kept around for the “hard labor” like knocking down walls or building a new bar from scratch using only a few planks of wood salvaged from a local lumber yard and a slab of recovered granite. Second is the interior designer (woman, of course) to do the traditionally “female” chores, like fashion new window treatments out of sections of leftover wallpaper or give tired, outdated chairs and booths a facelift with scraps of fabric bought for a song at (what luck!) an auction that just happened to be taking place in town. (Not real examples, but they'll do! Lol!)
Oh, and did I forget to mention this seemingly impossible task has be completed on a very limited budget? $10,000, to be exact. And I do mean exact—somehow that has to cover all the expenses. Hopeless, you wonder? Apparently not hopeless enough—because the masochist who thought up this show figured it would be fun to toss in a little twist by way of a time limit. 48 hours. That's right, 2 days. No more, no less. Hey, they don’t call it Restaurant: “Impossible” for nothing! Which brings me full circle to the show's host, Robert Irvine.
As you can probably imagine, it takes someone very shrewd and clever to mastermind and engineer a job like this. Someone who can organize the disorganized, assemble-on-the-fly, adapts and, ultimately, keeps his eye on the goal and produces results. Something like this needs a ringleader, someone who can unhesitatingly crack the whip when it needs to be. That duty falls on Robert Irvine's nicely capable broad shoulders. He wears the responsibility of it all not only effortless, but almost gleefully.
Revamping a successful restaurant is a large, complicated, big job that, true enough, is often kicked off on a restricted budget. But just $10,000? That's crazy! As for overhauling as well the flailing business's also flailing reputation—for bad food, bad management, bad service; a combination of the three, or sometimes all three!—luckily that's something usually left up to the owner.
In the case of Restaurant: Impossible, everything boils down to the determination of just one man. Robert Irvine. He, of the many times gruff, steely resolve to get-the-job-done, whatever it takes, preferably before the throng of waiting customers descend. What's that? Just another sweet little twist. As if renovating an entire restaurant in 2 days with just $10,000 isn't enough pressure, to mark the deadline exactly, hundreds of customers are invited to line up outside the front doors, and they gather ready and eager to play bit parts in drama of rebirthing the town's newest hotspot.
So, does he do it? Does Robert Irvine somehow manage to come in on-time and on-budget? Surprisingly, yes. Sure, there were a couple of times the restaurant didn't reopen precisely on the hour, but that's rare. Somehow, he pulls it off. Of the episodes I've caught, were two where there was a delay of maybe about an hour. Yikes! If that isn't a damned impressive track record, I don't know what is.
Before you stop reading, thinking what is her point? And does she even have one? Let me just point out what was no doubt obvious from the beginning---Insert Drum roll, please---is it my imagination, or is Robert Irvine going to make one ultra-terrific romance novel hero?! (wicked grin)
I haven't decided yet which time-period to toss him into. The choices are staggering. With all of that spunk and bravado he could be an extraordinary Scots laird. Can't you just see him there, somewhere on the Border between Scotland and England, on the back of some rugged Border pony, all breathless and sweaty as he rides for all he's worth away from—or to?—his most recent midnight raid? Perhaps his enemy is hot on his heels, giving a shake of his fist and vows of vengeance even as he watches Robert slip away into the dark folds of the night?
Or how about...?
Me being me, I've got to wonder how he would do if I brought him forward in time a wee bit. Say, to the 1850's American West? He's definitely got the attitude and arrogance (and physique—can't forget that!) to be a nice-alpha cowboy (not cowpoke, cowboy). Or...? How many lesser men braved the incredible harshness that was the California Trail? How many actually succeeded in reaching their destination—California, where it was said gold flaked off the walls of goldmines if a man simply scratched the wall with his fingernail? If said man could get there. Unfortunately there was a long, hard journey standing in his way to tackle first. The reality the California Trail was rough and harsh and much longer than the average easterner anticipated. No one who braved the trip made it to California unchanged. I'm thinking...a man like Robert Irvine, don't you think he could not only manage the trip, but given enough time succeed beyond his wildest dreams.
But first things first. I am a romance writer, after all. Shortly the man is going to meet and skirmish with a young woman who looks him in the eye, who proudly stands toe-to-toe with him, and who proves beyond a doubt she is every inch as strong and as resilient and as capable as he is himself. Of course!
Hmmm. Also, now that I'm really thinking about it, I've yet to set a book in the 1900s, even though I've spent many nights doing a great deal of very thought-provoking research.
Oops! There I go, letting my imagination run rampant. Toying with that most delightful of all of a writer's tools—the simple question, “What if?”
I'll be the first to tell you, it takes a lot to fire up my imagination. However, once it sparks to life, in no time it's blazing like an inferno. Restaurant: Impossible, rather more precisely Robert Irvine, is like a match held to a dried-up haystack. It serves it purpose. It makes my imagination flicker.
I'll leave you with this: after almost thirty years in the business, I can tell you with a small bit of authority that a true stab of inspiration will thrust deep and hard in the most unexpected, craziest places. It's fickle. Capricious. It likes to tease just out of reach, where you're almost positive that if you stretch and stretch just so, maybe your fingertips can almost—almost—just barely graze the edges. When it's finally captured, it needs to be coddled and tended and nurtured, long after the newness and fascination wears off. Long, loooooong after. And that said, let me ask ask you this:
In all honestly, just between you and me...don't you think Robert Irvine would make the most delicious, sexy as all hell, Rebecca Sinclair certified, romance novel hero?
You can find Rebecca at: