I guess my ideas come from reading a lot and thinking about what I don't like, what's missing and what I wanted to happen that didn't. Then I try to fix those problems and write the book I wanted to read instead.
I wrote LID partially because I was sick of all the super tough heroines that are unrelatable, sick of the extensive world building when what I really wanted was character interaction and sick of having a love triangle where I instantly knew who I was rooting for.
And I was really irked at how sanitized vampires are. They eat people! They are not good or nice! And yet, a lot of authors let that slide or just totally ignore it. And I think everyone gets short shrift from that. That's part of what makes them so interesting. Losing their humanity, making that decision to live at the expense of others, what makes someone evil or not. That was the Joss Whedon angle on vampires. They still love, they still have their own code of ethics, but it's kind of messed up.
Stephanie Meyer said she dreamed about Edward and Bella in a meadow and the books came from there. I suppose my initial idea was that a young woman was kidnapped by a vampire and turned. Her love interest whom she had grown up with is chained up next to her and if she wants to survive she has to drink his blood. But if she does he can never forgive her as his parents were killed by vampires. And somewhere in there was a very evil vampire who held them captive. That was the initial idea.
So yeah, my idea changed a lot. I mean sure, Jack and Val have known each other since they were teenagers and their parents bit the big one, but otherwise the idea has changed radically. And I didn't see Lucas as being a genuine threat for her affections. Probably it was similar to LK Hamilton-- Jean Claude was supposed to die so that Anita and Richard could ride off into the sunset but she was too tired (she'd just had her daughter) to kill him off. So he lived! And look at him now.
As for my inspirations-- I grew up reading romance novels and rereading Anne Rice over and over again. Even her Beauty series. I think that has an effect on a teenager. (Lol!) I've read the Hamilton books 3-11 about four times each (at least!) and while I really like Sookie, I keep meaning to reread them and just have not done it yet. But there was a span of time where I was pretty obsessed with them. I had the first print run of Sookie, and she'd actually autographed them, but I let a friend borrow them and they were stolen out of her car.
I've also re-read Outlander, all the Laura Kinsale and JR Ward a few times. And can I just say how much I'm looking forward to the quinn/blay novella. Holy cow!
Anyway, the ideas do not come to me full fledged. Peculiarly it's the cliffhangers and endings that I see first. I knew Jack was going to be in that room from very early on. And the same with the second book. The end and what's happening with all of our characters was something I knew from the outset of the second book. And I know the series ending, it's just a question of getting people there.
There was a point where I wanted to traditionally publish and it wasn't going to happen with the series being vampire based. Vampires are a dirty word in publishing right now. Did you know you're reading a genre people are sick of reading? Me either! But apparently it's true. So a few weeks before LID came out I came up with a huge plan to change the series and make Lucas not a vampire. There would be no vampires or werewolves but they would be from a different dimension. I didn't change it but that idea is still in my head. And it's different enough from LID that it could be a series.
The Lucas character is there and so is the Cerdewellyn character. Valerie to a certain extent but everything else is different. The world, the plot, all of it. So that might happen when VD is all over.
I also read a lot of historicals. Not now so much because they don't have enough sex and I don't like such a naive heroine. I don't want my heroine to swoon at her first kiss. It's boring. But I have a book that's half finished and is set in Regency England. It's time travel and the heroine is pretty kick ass. It's almost a reversal. She's worldly and tough and while he's our English gentleman alpha, he's not able to understand the world she comes from and what makes her so bold. And of course, that is the fascination.
I've also written an erotica but I don't think that will be under the Caroline Hanson pen name. It's m/m and regency. I don't think that's LID's core audience. I'd love to know what books you all go back to and what makes you crazy about certain genres. So tell me already!