back of the napkin #40
Whoo hooo! It's Friday!


TBTWhen I was thinking of what to enter for a "throwback Thursday" posting, I was coming up empty.

Then I remembered bumping into a friend, and like a proud parent pulling out pictures of their children, I started talking about my novel.

Yeah, I'm sure people are sick of me talking about it. I'm not. (Bill types with a big grin on his face.)

I try and work into my story that I had been working on that dang novel for over 10 years.

And what gave me the idea for the story in the first place?

(Insert the way back time machine sound effects...)

Well, I was sitting at my work desk taking a brief break.  My desk at the time was nestled in one corner of the office and high cubicle walls made it cozy and perfect for mid-afternoon thinking.

I was surveying the news articles which appeared on Yahoo News. One happened to catch my eye - a Reuters story out of China which said that a panda skeleton had been found in a tomb and suggested it was part of a burial ritual. It was dated February 2005.

InspirationMy mind tried to imagine the scene: dark burial chamber, archeologists digging around the site, and suddenly someone spots a pile of bones. A panda? In a tomb?

As the story relates, it was assumed that people at the time hunted the bears. But the story also said that it was the only tomb in the area which contained such an animal. So why assume that this bear was part of some ritual? Why assume they were hunted?

I remember sitting back in the desk chair and questioning what I had just read.What if the animal wasn't prey? What if the animal was a pet?

And BOOM - images started flashing across my mind like the frantic images of some movie's coming attractions...

Things, and questions, blossomed from there. Who found it? Why were they looking there? How did they get into the tomb. Characters, scenes, emotions, timelines.

The rest is history. Looooong history, since I worked on the novel for well over 10 years until I published it earlier this year. Many days I wanted to just chuck the thing thinking I didn't have any business writing a novel.

But now and then I would pull out the pages or reopen the document files and once again my muse would once again reinvigorate my thoughts and I had no other choice but to keep typing. Revising, researching, recommitting myself to seeing things through.

While trying to complete the novel, my mind would have brainstorms about additional stories I might write involving my main character, Dr. Benjamin Sunday and his mentor, Dr. Jackson Reynolds. Stories which would take them from South America to Europe to Sinai and other places. I created a fictitious college/university in a fictitious town in western Maryland. I could see people they would meet and places they would go.

And yet it all comes back to the Yahoo news article about a panda in a tomb and one little question:  "What if...?"



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