Here’s a blog I did that originally appeared on the awesome Bloomin Brilliant books website:
It is one of the great truths of life that nobody has ever asked an accountant where they gets their ideas from. People should start doing that, because it would take a lot of the heat off us authors. I’ve been asked that question a few times and generally, I give some variation of a funny response that doesn’t answer the question. Nobody likes to answer that question, not least because there really is no satisfying answer. In all honesty, most of the time the ideas are just there in my head when I jump into the shower in the morning. Perhaps my subconscious has worked them out overnight, perhaps my brain reacts well to water, perhaps I do all my best thinking naked. Certainly, I seem to think more clearly when naked, even if the thought is ‘I should very definitely not have taken my clothes off here’.
Still though, for the first and probably last time ever, I have gone through latest novel, Angels in the Moonlight, and tried to identify, where possible, how I arrived at certain conclusions. What this has resulted in is a weird scrapbook of ideas that may make little or no sense, but if nothing else, it’ll make you think twice before asking that dreaded question of anyone, even your accountant.
Getting annoyed at Lethal Weapon
You know the famous scene in Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson’s character is dealing with a man trying to jump off a building? He handcuffs himself to him and then they both jump. Here’s the thing – it is a great scene that makes absolutely no sense. There’s a big inflatable bouncy castle type thing below that they land on – how did the jumper not know that was there? I’ve never jumped off a building but I’m pretty sure that if I was going to, I’d be incredibly focused on the ground. That has bugged me for thirty years, the whole first scene of my book is essentially me doing a distinctly Dublin version of that scene, with no invisible bouncy castles anywhere to be seen or indeed not seen.
A benign cyst
Speaking or romance … I was once the proud owner of a benign cyst. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, the human body will occasionally grow these entirely harmless lumps that, though slightly alarming, have zero medical repercussions. It’s one of the ways that life reminds us that while the human body is a miracle, God could still have probably asked for a bit of help on the finishing touches or maybe done some beta testing. I had one on my back that my long-suffering wife was not a big fan of. She eventually talked me into getting it removed because it was bothering her (editor/wife note: she would like this changed to ‘she was concerned about it’ as she thinks the original version makes her sound horrible). Long story short, I then had an operation and a severely unpleasant reaction to aesthetic. There’s an instance in the book where one of the characters is about to go through that same operation. Essentially I wrote that so I could bring it up again without my wife being allowed to roll her eyes and tell me to get over it.
Some of you young’uns might not remember but back in the good old days (1999), we all thought the world was going to end due to a thing called the Millennium Bug – a very real and serious problem created by IT people that was going to cause planes to fall from the sky, all computers to stop working and my ma’s microwave to blow up so she had to unplug it and put it outside in the garden for safety. The only possible way to fix this was to pay IT people an awful lot of money – funny that. The best thing about it was if nothing happened they had done a brilliant job. This meant on January 1st 2000 the entire world felt a tremendous sense of anticlimax and started noticing the suspicious amount of IT consultants who now owned sports cars. I was working in IT at the time and while my compatriots were making out like bandits, I was spending my time reading endless articles on the internet about cults and predictions about how the world was going to end. Understand, I didn’t think it was going to end, I just developed an unhealthy fascination with those that did. I think I may’ve essentially set my book in 1999 just so I could share my obsession with one of my characters. Nothing is wasted – well, apart from if you gave away all your earthly possessions in the firm belief that the world was about to end, that is a bit of a waste.
Having re-read this, I think it is fair to say you could read the book (which I strongly suggest you do) and not have any idea what effect any of the above had on its creation. There’s an old saying in American politics, that laws are like sausages; it’s better if people don’t see how they’re made. I think we can now add novels to that list.