Happy Wednesday, Book Dragons!
I have a really exciting guest post to share with you all today! Darren Shan, author of series such as Cirque du Freak and The Demonata has kindly written a guest post about his latest series, Archibald Lox and where the inspiration for it came from.
The first three books are available on Amazon as an ebook right now, the first one is also available for free. Links for all can be found at the bottom of the post.
A few years ago I was walking over the Golden Jubilee footbridge in London. I have a flat in Waterloo, so I cross that bridge a lot on my way up to the West End to catch a film or a show. On this particular day, as I was on my way back to the flat, I spotted a young woman walking towards me. She was pulling bizarre faces, scrunching up her nose and gurning.
Now, she probably just had an itchy nose, but something inside me wondered if there might be another explanation for the facial gyrations. What if there was a doorway to another world on the bridge, and those tics and grimaces were the key required to open it?
The idea caught my imagination, and I began to run with it swiftly. What if the woman was in a panic, being chased by killers? And what if a boy spotted her opening the doorway and escaping, then tried to open it himself once the killers had moved on? No ordinary boy could do that. I mean, doorways to other worlds cant open to just anybody, can they, or wed all be wandering through them all the time! There would have to be something different about him. He would have to be a locksmith.
By the time I climbed down the stairs to the Southbank, I had the broad outline of my plot structure in place. The boy would follow the girl (I took a few years off the womans age, to make them contemporaries) and travel with her through a land of wonders called the Merge. I didnt know anything about the Merge at that point, but that was no big thing. With a locksmith as my main character, I was sure we’d have no problem picking the locks and opening the various doors of the storyline.
The last time this had happened to me, the skeleton of a story coming to me almost all at once, was with Cirque Du Freak, close to two decades earlier. Its a rare thing, a story dropping into a writers lap almost fully formed. Usually we have to chase up disconnected ideas and look for a way to connect them, teasing a storyline out of various odds and ends, carefully building up an image of the jigsaw puzzle that will become the plot. But with Cirque Du Freak and my Archibald Lox book (the name for the main character came to me swiftly as well, although I didnt settle on a final title until much closer to publication date) it was like I’d been handed a box with the pieces of the puzzle inside, and a picture of what it would look like on the top.
Its the way Hollywood sells writers to us. In films, authors have Eureka! moments all the time. Theyre a regular feature of our lives, according to the script writers. In real life, every writer knows that isnt so, and true moments of inspiration where stories fall into place as if by magic are as rare as well, as spotting a young woman pulling strange faces while walking across a bridge.
That magic has happened to me twice. The first time, I went on a thrilling, life-changing experience with my narrator, Darren Shan, and many millions of readers enjoyed the journey too. Where Archie leads up is yet to be determined, with much still shrouded in mystery, but I know this much
We’re off the bridge, through the doorway, and into the world of the Merge.
From here, anything can happen.