By Lindsey Davis
You have to be careful. If I say I am assembling a new synopsis while lying on my back with my legs at 90°, would-be novelists may start waggling their feet hopefully. People want to find the key, the One True Way to write. I can tell them until I am blue in the face (especially easy while half upside-down) that my True Way will not be yours. They still believe they can crack it using turquoise ink or starting at 6am.
Yes, as I realign my wonky pelvis, thoughts drift into the unoccupied brain. A colleague extolls Roman objects as inspiration. The first Falco novel did revolve around the title’s ‘Silver Pigs’, an archaeological curiosity, but that daft plot wasn’t what wowed the reading public or even me, as a writer in search of material. Before that The Course of Honour came from an unlikely love story (Vespasian and Caenis), bureaucracy, and wanting a new take on the ‘rise of a hero’ historical novel. I don’t think I ever devised another book from a ‘thing’.
Every author is different. I want characters and events. So into the inverted brain do float images of costumes, books, household items, ships, coffeehouses (DON’T send me emails crowing that the Romans had no coffee). But I’m really considering funerals, auctions, travel, ambitions and fears… I have a theme, which I must somehow sell to sceptical editors. I need some big public event for a climax.
This is what inspires me: When will someone have sex? Or not? Who’s rich and is destroyed by it? Who gets to be rich and is saved? Who is honest, slippery, tenacious, vague or hopeless? Even, will the writer produce a bestseller? (And will anybody publish it?)
My kind of stuff. I could do it upside-down.
Lindesy Davis (pictured centre) is a former President of the Classical Association and is currently serving a co-opted member of Council. You can read more about her work here.