Accidental Inventions by Lauren Linwood


Lauren Linwood here, pondering about how sometimes what you start out to do can lead to something quite different and unexpected.

Take popsicles, for example. Frank Epperson was only eleven in 1905 when he mixed some powdered flavoring with soda water. He left it (with the stirring stick intact) on his porch to cool. And like many kids, he forgot about it! The concoction froze overnight, and he enjoyed a frozen snack the next day, with the stick making it easy to eat. His accidental invention led to him patenting the process, which he sold to a company that created the Popsicle brand.


And what about Velcro? Its inventor, electrical engineer George De Mestral, took his dog for a walk one day. While in the woods, he noticed how well burrs kept sticking to his pet. Fascinated, he examined the cocklebur under a microscope and figured if attached to small loops in clothing, it would make for easy closures. His idea had pretty much bombed in the fashion industry until NASA used Velcro to secure items in space, where there is zero gravity. All of a sudden, many companies thought of ways to apply Velcro. My favorite use of it was on my daughter’s tennis shoes. At two, she could slip them on and fasten them herself and take off without my having to tie her shoes. It saved me a lot of time, and she felt like such a big girl accomplishing this task.


My favorite accidental invention story comes from the world of food and involves potato chips, one of my true addictions. George Crum was a hotel chef who took pride in his wonderful creations at Moon’s Lake House in New York, near Saratoga Springs. One guest complained that Crum’s fried potatoes were thick, bland, and soggy. He wanted a new order of them done the right way.

Being a temperamental sort (anyone seeing Gordon Ramsay here?), George went overboard, ready to teach the snooty patron a lesson. He sliced a potato paper thin and fried the heck out of it before he over-salted it. Thinking the grumpy guest would hate it, he was shocked when the man fell in love with his dish and ordered seconds! You guessed it—the potato chip had been invented, and today is one of our favorite snack foods.


Writers also are inventors—of worlds, of characters, and plotlines—and sometimes what we put onto paper isn’t what we thought we would wind up with in the end. I’ve mostly stuck to the medieval era and the American Old West for most of my romance novels, but twice I’ve had characters and ideas morph from an historical setting to a modern one, creating contemporary romantic suspense novels—a sub-genre I enjoy reading and never had any intentions in writing.

That was the case with Illusions of Death. I won’t bother you with the details of how it began, but suddenly my character sketches had evolved into a modern day police detective (the hero) and a crime fiction writer (the heroine), who unite to track down the Rainbow Killer (and get to fall in love during the course of their investigation).

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The Romance Reviews gave it 5 stars, saying, “ILLUSIONS OF DEATH has everything you can want in a romantic suspense, a heartfelt, emotional romance intertwined with an intense search for an evolved serial killer. This is a thriller with a lot of twists and a surprise ending that had me guessing. Lauren Linwood has written a romantic suspense that has a realistic setting and dialogue. A love story that satisfies and a suspense plot that keeps you reading. Loved it!”

So the next time I go to my writer’s drawing board, who knows what I’ll come out with as an end product? Maybe it will be another historical romance. Then again, who knows what might be in the cards for me to write?

You can purchase Illusions of Death at: or read it for free through Kindle Unlimited.

Follow Lauren Linwood:

As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Lauren’s historical novels focus on two of her favorite eras—medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the treasured gift of love. She also writes romantic suspense, where modern heroes and heroines unite to defeat a strong antagonist and discover a deep, abiding love during their journey. Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for House Hunters addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.

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