Another question to answer has arrived in my inbox - how do I go about writing a book?
It's well timed as I'm just in the middle of that stage at the moment.
How it starts is with just a single idea. It can be for a character, as with Evil Valley and the viciously embittered Mr Gibson, or it can be for a plot, or just a quirk of how it works, as in the central theme of riddle of The Death Pictures. Whatever, just one decent idea can be enough to construct a whole book around.
It's one of those odd things, like some have said about arthritis, or love - you only truly believe in them when you have them. It''s the same with an idea - you only really know it's a decent one when it bites you.
So, this is how it goes. I have the idea, and from there I nurture it. I work other ideas around it, maybe a sub plot, perhaps a twist or a character or series of characters. I write them down longhand on a big pad and then play around with them all, to see how they can interact or develop in the stages of a book.
I like my books to have plenty of pace and variety, to keep you interested and guessing what's going on, so I have to build in lots of developments or surprises. I hope I'm doing that ok!
I keep on building on the basic idea - almost baking it in fact is the way I think of it - a process which can take several months - until I'm sure I've got the skeleton, or structure of the book worked out - and only then will I start writing.
Most of my books are around 110 thousand words, so it needs that kind of momentum, built up over quite a period of time, to carry me through writing them...