Y'all are going to have to forgive me a bit on this one. I started WHAT THE HEART SEES about ten years ago, so I'm not 100% sure what gave me the idea. I can tell you, generally, what I was thinking about as I developed the plot.
I'm the sort of person who would like to believe in the paranormal. I've just never experienced it (with one small exception, which I'll get to at the end of this post). However, I find the notion of being able to "see" things other people can't--the future, what's going on in other parts of the world, what happened in the past--fascinating and a little scary. I mean--would you really like to know when someone's going to die? Or that your husband is cheating on you? It seems like one of those "gifts" that could just as easily be a curse.
I wanted to come up with a trilogy, and I thought three sisters with special "gifts" that could also be curses would be interesting. Lily's story was the first of the three. Rose's story my screenwriting partner Jenn and I turned into a romantic suspense screenplay, but we never got completely happy with it. It's plotted out, though, which means I have the outline for book two if book one ever sells. Iris' story, however...not a clue. :)
Now, about my one paranormal experience....My widowed mother and my divorced sister and her two children live with me. Her ex-husband's 9 month old baby also stays with us sometimes because he and his current wife work early morning shifts at McDonalds, and they can't afford child care. (Yes, we're saps. Yes, it's veering into Maury Povich Show territory. But the baby needs us, and we're in a position to do this for the child, so we do).
Anyway, back to the story. One early morning, around 4:00 am, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. As I was entering the bathroom, I heard voices in soft conversation. I didn't think much of it, since the baby sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, which gets both my mother and my sister up. It's not unusual for them to both be up and talking softly as they deal with getting the baby back to sleep. The only thing I remember thinking was, I'm glad they're up, because my sinuses are hurting, and maybe my sister knows where there's some saline nasal spray. (I know, TMI).
So I finish my business in the bathroom and come out. The voices have stopped, so I assume my mother's gone back to bed. However, it was a matter of maybe thirty seconds since I'd last heard the voices, so I figured she'd be awake and I could ask her about the saline solution. But Mom was dead asleep. The dogs who sleep with her were both dead asleep, too. Okay, my mom can fall asleep faster than anyone I know, but thirty seconds? And the dogs asleep, too?
So now, I'm a little weirded out. I go into my sister's room to see what's going on. And my sister, her younger daughter (who still sleeps with Mommy) and the baby are all sound asleep. In fact, my sister is wearing her CPAP mask (she has apnea). Nobody in that room was doing any talking. I even check her older daughter's room to see if she has the radio on. Nope. She's asleep, no radio is on. No television is on. Nothing is making noise but me.
Now, I'm a skeptic by nature--but I've checked with everyone in the house, and nobody was awake at 4:00 am but me. Nobody had a radio or television on. I have no logical explanation for what I heard that night, and I've looked for logical explanations. The fact that my mother has had a similar experience in that house only exacerbates my sense that I experienced something that is, by definition, paranormal.
Your mileage may vary.