Ideas are ephemeral; they come to us in a variety of ways. The idea for THE OFFERING was pretty much handed to me, but like so many others, it was built on what I had done before.
Over the course of my writing career, I have written nonfiction books about adoption and in vitro fertilization. I’ve written novels that feature adoption, cloning, and other life issues as major themes. So I suppose it was only natural that my agent thought of me when she read an article on how military wives are being sought to act as surrogate mothers–or, to be more accurate, gestational carriers.
When she suggested the idea, my first inclination was to write a thriller about a woman who discovers that a man is nurturing preborn infants in the wombs of cows–an idea planted by an article I read about thirty years ago (
theoretically it’s quite possible). My agent then wisely talked me out of my far-out tree and suggested that I bring the story more down to earth, and so I did. The story is about a young military wife whose family needs money (like most families these days), and who would love to have more children if only she could afford them.) So she talks her reluctant soldier husband into the idea, and she signs up to be a gestational carrier for a French couple (Surrogacy is illegal in France).
Along the way, I added some wonderful details: the husband comes from a Cuban-American family living in Tampa, so I got to drive over to Tampa and explore a Cuban grocery store. The daughter is musically talented, and the soldier is a special operations warrior who often departs in the dead of night and can’t tell his wife where he’s going. (I know that most special ops guys live in NC and operate out of Fort Bragg, but I took a little license with this one because I really wanted them to live in my neck of the woods. Plus, CENTCOM is located in Tampa, so it’s not such an illogical stretch).
As with nearly all of my stories, there’s an unexpected event, and for that I had to consult with a doctor, so I wrote my friend, novelist-surgeon Harry Kraus. He agreed that my fictional hypothesis could happen, given a couple of extenuating circumstances, so I made sure to write those into the plot.
And that’s how the story was born.
Tomorrow: the research