Like most authors I'm often asked when doing a school visit, where the ideas for my books, The Beast, The Reawakening and Rampage came from.
'Inspiration' if you can call it that came from a holiday in Scotland, and I've developed a bit of a story which I tell the children about, starting with the initial 'spark' of an idea of how the sunlight sparkling off the mountainside led me to wonder if some creature was lurking there among the rocks, and then when visiting a little highland museum I spotted the skull of a sabre-toothed tiger - and so the story began.
I reveal all this to the kids and talk about how it developed into a book and then a trilogy. And just to set the scene for this blog, the books are set in the present day, in a remote Scottish valley and feature the ghost of a sabre-toothed tiger named Karbel.
Since the books have been out and I've gone into schools to talk about the trilogy, a 'back' story has slowly been developing in my head. While in the first book we meet Karbel who has already been a spirit for 10,000 years, I like to tell the children in my own words of how he came to lose his life and become a ghost. Similarly in the third book, Rampage, where the ghost of a rogue mammoth plays a major part, I like to tell them how the mammoth was linked to Karbel during his mortal life.
In the back of my mind I've thought about writing this 'back' story, but hadn't got much more than the two incidents which I've just mentioned – certainly not enough for another book. Then just a couple of weeks ago the entire story sort of snuck up behind me (a bit like Karbel really – slowly and stealthily), manifesting itself into something solid and exciting.
With the idea nagging away in my head I thought I'd better sit down at my computer and jot down a few brief notes. I really don't understand how the brain and our imaginations work – but thank the Good Lord that they do, as from nowhere, characters, incidents and conversations all started to materialise in my head and I found my few brief notes turning into pages.
Within just three hours I'd got a 13 chapter outline all sorted! Start to Finish, my back story plot which I'd only vaguely been thinking about for years, was there in black and white! And as I sat there reading it back I honestly wondered where it had all come from.
I don't know if the original publisher will want this book – but I'm hoping it will get published in one form or another eventually. However, I'm not sure what I'll be telling children on future school visits if they ask where the idea for this story came from – "Err, well I just sat down in front of my computer and wrote it." It's a bit lame, so perhaps I'll develop a 'back' story as to how this book came about. Hmm! Let me think... "Well children, one dark and stormy night...."
It's been a few years since I last wrote about my character, Karbel – and I remember shedding a tear or two when I tapped out the final few sentences in the third book, Rampage and realised our adventure was over. But suddenly I'm writing about him again – he's alive and not just in spirit form this time – but a flesh and blood sabre-toothed tiger; playing with his siblings as a cub, prancing in the streams, trying – and failing (at first) to catch fish. Coming into contact with humans and a rogue mammoth. I know in this book – because of what happens to Karbel and his family, that the story will tug on the old heart strings, and of course, this time when I write the final sentence, it really will be the end of my adventure with Karbel. Sniff sniff!
The one thing that hasn't jumped into my head yet is a title. I'm trying to think of something short and snappy which will sit nicely alongside the other three titles. Inspiration for that has yet to strike! All suggestions gratefully received and I promise to tell youngsters where the title came from on future school visits!