How Claudia Must Die Was Born

I’m often asked how I come up with stories. This is difficult to answer considering I can’t pinpoint one moment in time. Usually, something plants a seed and then I’ll stumble onto a news story or overhear a conversation and an idea starts to grow. My upcoming release, Claudia Must Die, raises a few eyebrows when I mention the title. People want to know more right away, and I explain it’s about a wanted woman who plots to have her look-alike murdered in an attempt to escape her past. That spurs the typical question, “How did you come up with that?”

Several years ago I was on my way home from work, and I popped into the library to pick up some books I had requested. As I entered the building, a man followed me in. At the time I didn’t pay much attention. I checked out the books and chatted briefly with some of the staff members. When I left, the man who arrived at the same time exited with me.

I didn’t notice him looking at anything in particular inside, and my visit had been short, so I was surprised he was leaving already. I then noticed he was taking the same route as me through the South End of Boston. Each night after work I walked through the neighborhood and varied my route so I could enjoy the different streets and their gardens. That night, feeling uneasy about the man behind me, I purposefully crossed the street and took a street that led me out of my way. The man followed.

There was nothing overtly threatening about the guy. He wore jeans and a gray sweatshirt. However, he was following me pretty closely, even when I intentionally paused to see if he would pass. He didn’t.

This was getting creepy. There was no rhyme or reason to my route to Hynes Station. Its location on Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street was about twenty minutes away on foot. Now that I felt like I was being followed, I made a beeline towards Mass Ave. It was usually crowded as opposed to the streets we were on. Again when I turned, so did he.

By the time we reached The Christian Science building ten minutes later, the man suddenly veered to the right and I continued going straight. I felt silly about my paranoia, but it did take several moments for my heart rate to return to normal.

A couple of weeks later I read an article about Mexican drug cartels hiring children in border towns in Texas and using them as assassins. I found it appalling. Yet it did give me an idea, and I started to create two characters for a novel. The assassins in Claudia Must Die are brothers from a small, dusty Texas town. They fall into the line of work since there are no other job prospects. They’re young, but not as young as the children in the article I read. I didn’t have the heart to create twelve-year-old killers.

Remembering how I felt when I thought I was being followed started the story’s formation in my head. However, I didn’t want it to be overly simple. I wanted the woman who was being pursued to have no idea she was a target. I had to stew about this for several weeks before I had a clearer picture. That’s when the idea of Claudia Must Die was born.

Coming up with an idea is a process and it can take weeks, if not months, to germinate. When it does, I sit at my computer and type. Usually the story changes drastically, but the seed remains the same.


claudia_kindleClaudia doesn’t feel like herself anymore—she feels like prey. Her husband’s hired goons have stalked her all the way to Boston and will only stop their pursuit once she is dead.

Divorce is not an option. Instead, she has stolen a bunch of her man’s money to disappear into another life.

In order for Claudia to live, someone else must die. A lookalike college student becomes the target capable of freeing her from an awful marriage.

The plan goes horribly awry. Instead of murdering Claudia’s double, the assassins shoot the woman’s lover who is the cousin of a powerful Irish mobster. Claudia becomes hunted by all involved. Can she survive? Should she?

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About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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68 Responses to How Claudia Must Die Was Born

  1. Being followed is so spooky. I was getting the train home from university one weekend and something nagged me about the person who came to sit opposite me. I’d already seen them watching me at the station. Every time I moved, my new friend followed. After the third move — to an open carriage, I finally plucked up the courage to say ‘Please stop following me’.

    I should be able to draft my review over Christmas, as I’m going to be off-line with nothing but books to read (and write about). If I can fit it in before, I will. Congratulations on the launch. Really hope it does well.

    • TBM says:

      I’m not sure I would have been that brave. That would freak me out. Some people are just odd.

      Thanks for the well wishes and I’m excited to read your thoughts. Happy holidays!

  2. lexacain says:

    That would have freaked me out! Thank goodness, I’ve never had anything like that happen to me. I lived in NYC for 10 yrs and the worst that happened was I was pickpocketed – ironically, I was entering a library at the time. Maybe libraries aren’t as innocent as they seem. Thanks for the info on your inspiration. Wishing you much success! 🙂

  3. I always love hearing how author’s come up with their ideas, and it’s interesting how the whole story doesn’t come to you from one occurrence, but rather from events at different times in your life. How do you keep track of these little tidbits? Do you keep an idea journal or something like that or do you just store them away in your mind? By the way, GO CLAUDIA!!!!!!!!

  4. Beth Ann says:

    It is such a GREAT book and I love knowing the background of the story a bit more. Can’t wait to plug it on my blog this week!!! Thanks so much for letting me be a part of it!

  5. Congratulations!!
    Glad that guy wasn’t really after you. Or if he was, you thwarted him with the crowds.

  6. Cynthia says:

    That sounds like such a great story! Love the plot.

  7. My heart would have been racing too…how scary! I had an ex-boyfriend stalk me years ago..very frightening ordeal. Congratulations on the book launch!

  8. Sherri says:

    That was so scary being followed like that TB, so glad you were okay. But great that you came up with such a intriguing plot for Claudia, which, BTW, I can’t wait to read 🙂 Thanks for sharing how your got the idea, I always love reading how writers come up with their plots and how long they ‘hand around’ and percolate before they take form as the finished story 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I’m a slow percolator. Ideas bounce around in my head for a very long time.

      • Sherri says:

        Just had to tell you, I had notification that Claudia is now on my Kindle, ready to read! I’m brand new to an e reader, and loving it. I read at night in bed so the Paperwhite is perfect for me. I’ve got to finish the book I’m on and then onto yours…can’t wait 🙂

  9. Too creepy being followed like that and at close range. Eek.
    Interesting to hear how this story originated. I’m always surprised how seeds of stories begin.

  10. Sherry Ellis says:

    I think I would’ve been worried, too, if someone was following me like that. Scary! Congratulations on your new book. I’ve seen it all over the blogosphere. It looks great!

  11. Colline says:

    I can understand why you were spooked TB, I would have been too. Glad you took the experience to creat an entertaining story.

  12. Even though that guy eventually took a different route, the way he followed you up to that point still sounds very suspicious to me. Maybe he saw something that made him back off. At any rate, all’s well that ends well. Not only did you use the creepy experience as the seed idea for a new book, but you’ve also learned to be more vigilant. Win-win!

    Can’t wait to read it!

  13. cleemckenzie says:

    Being followed–even if it turns out to be more in your imagination than real–is always scary. Great that you turned that experience into a story. Love it when that happens.

  14. Yikes, this was creepy just to read. It’s always interesting to learn how someone comes up with a book and this time even more so. What a scary experience that must have been.

    • TBM says:

      It was frightening at the time. I felt silly afterwards for being so freaked out, but I’m glad it turned out fine and I got myself worked up for no reason.

  15. A very intriguing look behind the scenes TB! Thanks for sharing what inspired you to write this thriller.

  16. Oh my goodness! That would have scared me too. Congratulations on your new release! It’s an awesome story. 🙂

  17. Claudie Must Die sounds amazing. I loved hearing how you came up with the story (but being followed seems super spooky). It is interesting how our brains will take different experiences and things we hear to create a new story. Thanks for sharing!

  18. pattisj says:

    Sounds like an edge-of-the-seat read, congratulations. That is a creepy experience you had. I read somewhere if you think you’re being followed, drive to the nearest police station.

  19. I recall being followed and it’s always a horrible feeling. I once yelled at a guy and it worked. Many unpleasant experiences make our writer brains churn with new ideas.

  20. Glynis Jolly says:

    I just know it’s going to be a great read. My budget is tight right now but I put it on my wish list. 😀

  21. It’s great that he gave you inspiration, but it sounds fairly scary! Comedian John Mulaney does a bit about one night he was behind a woman who was walking to the subway. Suddenly she sped up, so he assumed she knew the train was coming and he sped up, too. Then she started looking back over her shoulder. He wanted to say, “No! I’m not crazy, I promise!” It was kind of a tough situation to be in, I guess!!! But if you aren’t running for the subway and you’re a man, I’d say you should avoid following a woman out of a building and down a street at night. Just hang back and let her go on.

    • TBM says:

      I was in the Tube station the other day, and I remembered this and made an effort not to follow too closely. Hard to do in a crowded city. But I hardly ever run for trains (bad knee) so I think I’m safe. I wouldn’t want to intimidate anyone, not that I would.

  22. Whoa, how unsettling. No wonder it ended up inspiring a book for you!

  23. I love hearing how a story plants a seed in a writer’s mind. I’m sorry that you had that scary experience, but you channeled it into a wonderful source of inspiration. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      It’s fun to hear how writers find inspiration and I enjoyed sharing this story. This one was pretty clear in my head. Some of my novels I would have to dig deep to really find the seed.

  24. OK, that would have creeped me out excessively, being followed, or feeling as if I were. To tap into a real feeling like that must make your words leap off the page. I look forward to reading your book.

  25. Being followed is a great plot device. I’ve always wanted to write a story inspired by the Silver Mountain flasher that approached my car up in the woods when I was in high school. The only thing he had on was swimming goggles. At least my boyfriend was with me and scared the dude away. All the snippets we carry in our brains have such story potential if we’re open to molding it.

    • TBM says:

      Swimming goggles. Oh man, that sounds terrifying and thank goodness nothing bad happened. Was the guy finally caught? There was a flasher in my neighborhood many years ago, but I never witnessed it first hand luckily.

  26. That is a creepy experience. The strangest things plant stories in our minds, and the original thoughts are quickly warped into something amazing when a new, unexpected idea pops in. Actually, that’s one of my favorite parts of writing 😉

  27. Cher Green says:

    Thanks for sharing your process. It’s always interesting to see how a story moved from seedling into a blossoming story idea. 🙂

  28. The Guat says:

    Duuuuuuuuuuuude I can’t even tell you how excited I am for your novel. I finally got something that can hold the Kindle App and I’m on it girl! Or I can do it old school like my other books 🙂 Anyhow I like the insight as to how your novel got started. I always like to hear the aha! moment when sparks came together on the page. What about your other books? Anyhow Good to hear that your chugging along on the writing path. High five girl.

    • TBM says:

      This book was easier finding the aha moment. I would have to really think about the other books. Might be a good exercise to do that. Enjoy the Kindle App. I never thought I would get addicted, but I am now.

      • The Guat says:

        Duuude you totally need to investigate…maybe it’s different for each one. As for the kindle…I’m still working on it the one thing I do like is that I don’t have to hold a flashlight in bed while I’m reading. But I’m still old school and like the feel of the book, but I imagine for writers and publishing it’s totally opened up all kinds of opportunities. Hey I know you’re busy but if you’re interested in joining me I’m reading another book got started on it last week and it’s AWESOME. Called Unbroken … Duuuuuuuude. Anyhow just in case you’re chillin’ and want something inspirational, I’ll post my review when I’m done of course … Hoping it will be at the end if the month 🙂

  29. Thanks for the story-behind-the-story; I always enjoy those. And as you know, I thoroughly enjoyed Claudia.

  30. Pingback: Book Review: Claudia Must Die by T. B. Markinson | Colline's Blog

  31. Karthik says:

    Hey I was wondering, is this book available for buyers in India?

  32. Pingback: Views and reviews | roughseasinthemed

  33. Novroz says:

    The blurb sounds intriguing. I would love to read it (even though not sure when I have the time) but I don’t have credit card plus amazon refuse to sell ebook in my country 😦

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