Where do the story ideas come from?
I participated in an Ask the Author forum recently
and was asked how I come up with the plots and subplots for my novels. The answer’s really simpler than you might
think. Storylines and plots exist all
around us. I get ideas from books,
places I go, things I do, people I meet.
As an example, I just finished Book One of a series
I call The Crypt Trilogy. The first
book, The Relic of the King, involves a place and a subject I enjoy very
much. London’s one of my favorite
cities. The “City of London,” that
square-mile area that houses the huge banks, insurance and financial service
companies, has been built and rebuilt on top of earlier settlements for two
thousand years. I’ve stood on a busy
street in the middle of this bustling metropolis, double-decker busses zipping
by behind me, watching a massive construction site sit idle. Huge cranes and dozers are quiet while a
small group of men and women huddles far below, looking at something that was
uncovered as a building was demolished.
From street level, peering through one of those little peepholes the
builders put in their fences, it’s impossible to know what these people are
One thing’s for sure. They’re archaeologists. A huge construction site where a building
once stood is devoid of activity while these people examine whatever the
excavators uncovered. Often it’s Roman
ruins – you can still see examples of walls built in the first century AD all
over the City. Other times it’s a wall
or a tower built a thousand years later – by William the Conqueror or one of a
dozen other well-known leaders of ancient Britain.
The demolition stops while archaeologists are
allowed to examine and hopefully rescue what they find. They have little time – the practicality of
finance and construction timetables takes precedence. The archaeology team is allowed only a few
weeks to work. Then whatever’s there is reburied
under the foundations of one more huge new building.
When I watched one of these teams of scholars at
work at a construction site, I imagined what else might exist below buildings
in the ancient City of London. It’s a
fact that virtually everywhere someone digs, something incredibly old appears
below. I stuck that idea on an imaginary
post-it note in my head and eventually it became the subject of The Relic of
Now there’s the next book to consider. It’s a Crypt Trilogy – I’ve established that
already – so it has to involve a crypt. Here’s
how I found the idea for this one.
I was reading a fascinating book the other night
called “Tutankhamun: The Untold Story”
by Thomas Hoving (former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). The Met was deeply involved with the
discoverers of Tut’s tomb, Howard Carter and his backer and mentor Lord
Carnarvon. From the time I was a kid
until now, I’m sure I’ve read the story of Carter’s discovery in 1922 fifty
times and it’s always thrilling, always exciting and never gets old.
Up to now, I’ve never written about Tutankhamun in
any of my books. My next one won’t be
about him either – not exactly.
As I read Thomas Hoving’s interesting story of
intrigue and mystery surrounding the discovery of King Tut, ideas flowed in my
mind. The Crypt Trilogy – Book Two was
being born. Suddenly I had my rough
I tell you all that to answer the question “where
do the story ideas come from?” This is a
prime example of how they come to me. There’s
a story in almost everything you see, do or think about. Just open your mind and let an idea come in!
So get ready.
Book Two of The Crypt Trilogy will be about something very old, very
unusual, and very well hidden for a long, long time. Something people will kill to possess. And pity the person who happens upon it, not
knowing what powers it may hold.
And it’ll be in a crypt, of course.