It has been exactly one year since I wrote my very first blog. To celebrate I’m revisiting that blog with new material that gives a little more insight into the birth of the idea that lead me to write my epic animal-fantasy, “Tooth and Claw”. I hope you enjoy it.
The one question, above all others, I’m always being asked as a writer is… Where do you get your ideas? So, when talking about my most successful book to-date, ‘Tooth and Claw’ – originally published in 1998, and the first of my books re-released as an e-book – where the idea came from is a good place to start.
Firstly, I’ve spent most of my working life in the creative arts; as a designer, and as an author. I’ve always played with ideas and I can often catch them completely out of thin air! (Lucky me!) However, sometimes the source of an idea can be pinned down… to an event, or a place, or an experience. And just as often, to this simple question… What if?
The idea for, ‘Tooth and Claw’ is a, What if?
For many years I shared my home with a cat. She was a sleek, fine-boned tortoiseshell called, Jenny. During the day, she was a lazy, sleepyhead; a good-for-nothing house cat. But in the late evening she would wake herself up and make her way slowly to the front door; where she would cry at the top of her voice until I came and opened up the door to let her out. As the door was opened Jenny would change. Suddenly purposeful, she would stance boldly. Her tail would stand upright. Her ears would prick and her nose would twitch as she began to take in the sights and sounds of the outside world. Then, when she was good and ready, she would dart out into night. The domestic cat was instantly gone, and the wild hunter took her place. She never hesitated, she never looked back. She was more than happy to leave the safety and comfort of the house behind her. Why? Because she was confident that when she returned to the house in the early morning I would always be there to let her in again. I would feed her and pamper her, and she would have a deliciously soft bed to sleep upon. And so it was…
Every night, year upon year, Jenny went through this performance. And every morning I was always there for her.
And then, one night, as she left, I asked myself a question… What if? What if, tomorrow morning I was not there to let her in again? What if the house was empty; closed up and locked against her? What would she do then? What would become of her?
This was where the core idea for, ‘Tooth and Claw’ was born. Only the idea was to grow much, much larger…
You see, around the same time, I went on holiday with my family to Oludeniz, a small extremely beautiful beach resort, in the Fethiye district of South West Turkey. (It boasts its own blue lagoon.) While we were there we took it upon ourselves to walk to the nearby hill-top town of Kayakay. However, Kayakay was a most unusual place. It was, in fact, a true ghost town… Completely abandoned in 1922, after the Greco-Turkish War, its buildings were all still standing, largely intact. I remember the stonework of the empty buildings standing out starkly against the hillside. I remember its silence, its stillness… The monumental emptiness of it all was quite overwhelming… if strangely peaceful too. It was an experience I have never forgotten. Indeed, it helped set the stage for “Tooth and Claw”.
No longer was it to be the story of just one cat locked out of one house. Instead, it became the story of all the cats and all the dogs across a whole city (if a very British post-industrial city). All of them; abandoned on a single night, when the human population is suddenly evacuated, and forced to leave their pets behind.
Ultimately, the story became the struggle of those abandoned pets to survive… alone. And the beginning of an epic adventure…
Suggested Readership: Older Children/Young Adult