I usually get my ideas for a story from a sudden mental snapshot of a character either doing, or saying something that encapsulates who they are and the problems they are facing. In “City of Secrets” the Letty Parker series began with an image of a scruffy Victorian urchin sitting on the wharf and spitting into the dock, while wondering what had happened to the street children who bought her pies. In “Bridge of Lies” it was the Clifton Suspension Bridge that sparked the story, while “Island of Fear” began with a painting of a Jamaican Great House that we bought when we were living in Kingston. “The Hanging Tree” is of course the white tree that stands on The Downs and which I passed regularly on my bus journeys into town.
“A Gathering of Gargoyles” had a very different genesis. The first was a question about the Bristol gargoyles in “City of Secrets.” I was doing a workshop with home-schooled children at the New Vic Theatre in Stoke and small groups were forming images of dragons and gargoyles. Talking about what these creatures would look like and where they came from and what might endanger them led to one of the threads in the story.
For making the gargoyles and dragons centre stage, however, I have to thank Peter Coleborn. Peter, who edits the books and formats the covers, wanted to know more about these creatures. He felt they were underused in the previous stories and should play a greater part in the solving of mysteries by Letty and her associates.
And so from those two stimuli emerged a plot which encompasses the Night Creatures that spread news of dark deeds throughout the city, plus the evil of the Dark Ones plus the way that the world in which they all live is being affected by the developments of the Victorian Age.
This last theme is one that will definitely resonate with readers linking as it does to our concerns about Climate Change.
If only Letty and her friends could use their skills and their magical contacts in our world.
PS Image from cover art by Anuk Naumann