The Birth of a Book

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I’m often asked, “Where do your books come from?” Well, I could say “New Jersey,” but what they really want to know is how a book gets started.

I can’t answer that, because there are as many starts as there are books. But I can tell you how one of my books, The Thunder King (Bell Mountain No. 3) got started.

It started with an image that popped into my head, a small boy riding a Baluchitherium, the largest land mammal that ever existed. This was very vivid to me, and served as the germ of the story. How was I to get the boy onto the Baluchitherium, and why did I want him there in the first place? What were the two of them going to do, and how would they do it?

Next, a new character showed herself: an old woman living in the city of Obann, not doing much of anything until she becomes a vessel of prophecy. And next thing I knew, I imagined her standing in the rain, soaked to the skin, white hair blowing in the wind, and crying out, like Moses, “Now see the salvation of the Lord!”

When I put those two images together–the boy on the Baluchitherium, and the old woman in the storm–they became the ingredients of a climax for a new book. And all I had to do was figure out how to get there. So I had the ending of the story first, instead of the beginning. That was The Thunder King.

Even now, I find the hardest thing to do is to wait for God to send me something that I can work with. The weather’s getting nice and I’m eager to get started on a new book, but I’ve learned it doesn’t work that way. I can’t command it to happen. I can only wait–and I know by now that whatever I’m given, it’ll come as a surprise.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

One response to “The Birth of a Book

  • UnKnowable

    The only creative endeavor I undertake involves arranging music. I’ve found, over the years, that my best arrangements just seem to come to me from one little idea. I might think of a novel way to play a certain phrase, or some interesting chord voicings, and then I build from there. From that point on, I try various ideas and look for elegant solutions. After a while, I find that the song takes on a geographic character and I think of the various passages in the song in the same manner as I would memorize various places and features in my neighborhood.

    Once that process is complete, I feel that I have “internalized” the song and can be completely oriented, able to think of the relationship between various parts of the song, but it almost always starts with the germ of an idea.

    It’s interesting to read of how you came to develop the story line of The Thunder King. The climax of the book was quite a read. I can see how having that as a climax led to the invention of all that came before in the book. It was a great plot device and advanced the story arc of the series in a logical manner.

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