The Story Behind the Series

Where do stories come from? I wish I had a clever answer but although they clearly come from one’s imagination, life’s events, experiences, and people undoubtedly shape the process. I started my storytelling career by entertaining my three younger brothers and their friends with tales of intrepid youngsters (us, of course!) somehow trapped inside a haunted mansion called Gruesome Gables. This mansion was populated by the worst of the worst in the monster pantheon – vampires, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, you name it, we fought it. Of course, being the young heroes, we always escaped to fight another day.

It was many years later before I started writing for pleasure, although a career first planned in the theatre somehow led me into the publishing industry. I never set out to write a children’s book, but the story found me. I went to Egypt with my mother and my two young nephews (then aged 10 and 12). We had a most glorious adventure and although I am a seasoned traveller, having been to most of my bucket list destinations, this trip was different. I saw it through the eyes of two enthusiastic middle grade explorers, and their view was vastly different from mine. My nephews showed me the magical aspects of reality, and thus the seeds of the first story were sown.

When we returned home, I decided to write my nephews a short story of exploration, adventure, and (of course) lots of danger. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab came to life. But halfway through the story, I realized that it had to be longer to give the young heroes enough time to save the world. At the end of the story, I realized that they needed more books to be able to properly save the world! I love ancient history, so it wasn’t hard to find the most wonderful legends and mythologies and take my young explorers on a fantastic adventure that encompassed all the magical places around the globe, incorporating historical figures, history, geography, mythology, legends, ancient artefacts, and cultures that kids possibly will only ever read about.

I find that visual images also spark a lot of my ideas. Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur involves the finding of the most famous sword in literature and history, Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur. That adventure takes my young heroes to Scotland and England. Interestingly, I was at something of a loss as to how this story would unfold. One night I watched an old Inspector Morse movie, The Wolvercote Tongue, and some of it takes place in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, a place I love. I woke up the next morning with the plot in my head and, yes, something important happens in the Ashmolean!

Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper satisfied my enduring fascination with the Maya and the Aztecs and whisked my heroes off to the jungles of Mexico. I wasn’t sure how to start the adventure until I saw the opening scene of the TV series Lost, where a plane has crashed, and the debris is strewn all over the place. I did not complete watching the series, but that image remained with me, and kick-started the opening scene of Book 3.

My young heroes then hide out in the catacombs of Paris in Book 4: The Treasure of the Knights Templar. And yes, before you ask, an incredible statue of a knight effigy which currently resides in the Louvre was the igniting spark. Book 5, 6, and 7 are in progress, taking the young heroes to India, Turkey, and then possibly back to Egypt. One never knows what is going to provide the creative idea for a book, but I always remain open to all kinds of inspiration.