There Are No Cows
Has an idea ever just hit you?
So, about two years ago, I was walking with my dogs in a particularly empty part of the New Forest and I heard a noise.
It wasn't anything especially strange, just a cow mooing loudly somewhere out of sight. It was strange because not only could I not see the source of the noise, but I hadn't seen anyone for well over an hour. It was just me, my dogs, the forest and this noise.
At that moment the seed of an idea formed. An idea which has now grown to become a series of books I have started writing and intend to continue for quite some time. Your first thought might be to assume this is a series about forests, or farms, but it's not. In fact, the thought that started on that day is one of a science fiction nature.
I know, I'm a weirdo, right!
Anyway, that might seem like an odd link, or no link at all, but it's hard to fully explain the situation. I was enjoying a moment of peace. A moment completely cut off from all other human life. I've no doubt there were people nearby, but I couldn't see or hear them and so, in a certain way, they didn't exist. Have you ever driven on an empty road, or late at night and felt the thought slip into your mind that this is what it would be like if something had wiped out most of the human race and left you as one of the few survivors?
When I heard the cow (and not knowing much about cows in general), I thought it sounded distressed. I suspect it wasn't. but the feeling I got from the emptiness around me and that forlorn sound, started a conversation in my head.
I will admit now that I talk to myself. A lot. I have conversations and arguments on behalf of imagined characters all the time. It's something my partner has learned to ignore, but it often gets me quizzical looks from my dogs. And strangers.
Anyway, back to the thought; I began to have a conversation. It was between someone knew to the area and someone who already lived there and had done for some time. The newbie was asking about the noise, the local explaining it was a nearby farm. The background formed in my mind. A post-apocalyptic, almost entirely abandoned place (driven by my being on my own at the time, no doubt) that someone has crashed into. There are dangers there they know nothing of, maybe even their current situation is about to turn on them. The conversation carried on (watched by my dogs) as the local explained the farm might be under attack by raiders. The visitor wanted to help, but the local cautioned them against it.
I carried on talking to myself, heading back to the car with two mucky dogs and tired legs. The appearance of other people curtailed my mumbling, but the idea was fixed in my head by that point. After a few days of idle scribbling and letting it ruminate in my mind, Jupiter's Halo was born. I have to tell you now, the first novel doesn't include any farms or cows.
In fact, I plotted what is now the second book first, only coming up with the idea for the first novel as a means to get my characters to a place I wanted them to be. The story has changed since those first early attempts, growing to encompass the solar system we live in, but that original seed of an idea still lies buried beneath all the words I've since written.
I don't know how other writers get their ideas, or how formed they are when they come, but I know this idea (like so many others) hit me hard on that autumn day and I'm still feeling its impact now.
Some of what I've written here may seem a little cryptic. I apologise for that, but there's only so much I can say without giving away the storyline. Have a read of The Lies, the first Jupiter's Halo novel and hopefully some of it will become clear. A lot more should make sense once the second novel is available too.
Both books intentionally leave out details and offer questions which will be answered in later novels. I'd apologise for how annoying that can be, but I don't want to, so I won't. My plan for the series is currently nine books. Maybe it will end up longer. maybe not. Stick around and we'll find out together.
For now though, I think I've wittered on enough. I'm sure there are other blogs you want to read and books you've got new chapters to devour. So I will say goodbye, for now. Please feel free to comment here or on my novels. I hope you enjoy reading them, even though, so far, there are no cows.