Creating Inspiration – Where to Start

Embarking on the task of writing a new book is always a thrill, but that thrill doesn’t start for me until I have the title, because until then, I don’t have a clue where to start.

I little while ago, I wrote about coming up with the idea for a series of books in the horror genre aimed at kids. What I came up with at that time was a title for the series – Skeleton Cove Horror – and the title for the first book – The Demon of Devilgate Drive.

All well and good, but now that book is out in the world, I need to think about the next one. Now, normally, I don’t consider the cover image until I’m at least half-way through writing the book, since I’m more likely to come up with something inspirational if I actually know what the story is about.

This time, however, I started thinking about the title in conjunction with finding an image, so the two things were swirling around in my head at the same time. I knew I wanted the background image (the town of Skeleton Cove) to be the same as that of the first book, as that would help to give the series a bit of branding, so bearing this in mind, I began exploring possible titles.

My initial thoughts were along the lines of a murderous butcher (The Knife Man Cometh), a cutthroat hairdresser (The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), or a pirate. Going with the latter option, I played around with that old nugget: The Something of Something Thing.

The Treasure of Something Thing
The Curse of Something Thing
The Ghost of Something Thing

I then resorted to looking up the names of actual pirates. Now, if you’ve ever done this you’ll know there are millions of them – since the dawn of time men (and occasionally women) have been plundering and ripping it up in an ‘Arrgh Jim-lad’ sort of way all over the world. And strangely enough, most of them have pretty ordinary, boring names, like William Walker and James Ford. However, there are others who sound more interesting:

Scandinavian lady pirate Awilda
William (Captain) Kidd
Sadie Farrell (Sadie The Goat)
Edward Teach (Blackbeard)

But it was the wonderfully named English pirate John Rackham (named Calico Jack after his penchant for wearing calico) who really caught my eye. Said to be the originator of the Jolly Roger, Rackham was also known for having two female crew members, including the infamous Anne Bonny.

Although Calico Jack’s life and exploits are fascinating, there’s no obvious link to explore in terms of horror (vengeful murder, ghostly curses, haunted treasure), leaving me no option but to do what most other writers do – make something up.

So now I’ve got the title: The Curse of Calico Jack, I needed an image to go with it and turned to my favourite stock photo provider: Dreamstime. Naturally, there were lots of pics of pirates (or blokes dressed as pirates), but one in particular stood out. With a little bit of Photoshopping, I turned a stock photo into what I was looking for and hey presto!

Now all I have to do is write the book.

NB Since posting this, the book has been written and is out there for the world to see. Now all I have to do is write the next one in the seres, currently titled The Axeman of Manslaughter Mansion (Mwah, hah, hah…)

Check it out here.

  24 comments for “Creating Inspiration – Where to Start

  1. 11/06/2017 at 11:14 PM

    Thank you for sharing your process. I’m so impressed that you can come up with the titles and covers first, THEN write! Titles, (for me,) are the worst.


    • 12/06/2017 at 6:04 AM

      I think you have to do whatever works for you. In my case, the title is the starting point and is generally all I need. Having said that, I can write short stories without having the title first, which is odd… Thanks for your comments – much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 11/06/2017 at 7:13 PM

    Great cover, Colin. This sounds fantastic, Michael and I love Calico Jack and I will definitely read this with him.


  3. 11/06/2017 at 1:56 AM

    So, how scary is your first book in the series? Stephen King scary? Also, curious — as you are doing your own cover do you publish your own books or go through a Publisher? How many books do you plan for the series? Get going… 🙂


    • 11/06/2017 at 8:44 AM

      I think scary is an individual thing – what’s scary to me might not be to someone else. Certainly, my children’s books aren’t aimed at giving anyone nightmares, and I’d definitely be racking things up a few notches if I were aiming solely at adults.

      I’m an indie author so I publish on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble etc, and yes, I do my own covers. Currently working on my 16th and 17th books – one for kids, one for adults.

      Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 11/06/2017 at 11:40 AM

        That’s wonderful and thanks for sharing your books, your process, and book reviews too. I’m going to read this first book in your series and also want to read the Tuscany book you had reviewed.

        I was just in Dublin and loved being in the bookstore. They have a great selection of books for adults/YA, different from our writing here in the States.

        I’ve just finished two children’s picture books and will start sending them out to publishers and see what they think.

        Congratulations on being at 16/17 books, I’m just at 1, but got to start somewhere, right!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 11/06/2017 at 9:38 PM

        Everyone has to start somewhere, and you’ll learn far more by doing it than not, so each new book will add to your abilities and knowledge. Good luck with your first one!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 14/06/2017 at 4:53 PM

        THANK YOU!


      • 14/06/2017 at 5:35 PM

        You’re welcome 😉


      • 15/06/2017 at 2:05 AM

        By the way, did I mention this to you… as you like mysteries, I have been reading an interesting book by Jason Goodwin, “The Janissary Tree,” takes place in Istanbul and the Inspector is an eunuch. It was a clever plot idea. The author has a series, I think he is on book 5.


      • 15/06/2017 at 6:21 AM

        Haven’t heard of this one. I just had a look at it and am considering adding it to my ever-increasing TBR pile. Ah yes, so many books, so little time…


      • 15/06/2017 at 11:48 AM

        True, so little time… that’s when we have to choose the books to read that will help “inspire” our “own” writing.


      • 15/06/2017 at 1:32 PM

        Indeed, though it’s also important to support other indie authors. A fine line, it be.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 15/06/2017 at 1:41 PM

        Not sure what you mean. For me, I hear about a book and if I like it I put it on my list of books to read. I don’t discriminate, a good book is a good book no matter how it was published. :). Sounds like you focus on reading indie authors, because you are one. I understand… for me, I am open to all authors.


      • 15/06/2017 at 1:50 PM

        I’ve love to be open to all authors, or to simply read whatever takes my fancy, but indies need reviews and the best way to get them is to read books by other indies in the hope they’ll read yours. However, I’ve also got books by Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Sarah Waters, Spalding Gray and Ray Bradbury sitting there patiently waiting…

        Liked by 1 person

      • 15/06/2017 at 1:55 PM

        Very good… maybe write a Post about BEST places to find Indie authors AND where to post reviews on their books. Help us, help you!


      • 15/06/2017 at 2:26 PM

        What an excellent idea! I’ll do that very thing.


  4. 10/06/2017 at 3:01 PM

    Good story of the creative process. I remember doing something similar for my short story “Night Flights.” I wandered through stories and cases concerning Alien abduction in order to get a feel for common elements. Then I remember the story about Betty and Barney Hill. Of course this was one of the most famous cases, and since it happened in the early 1960’s…I created a rather “retro” 1960’s cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 10/06/2017 at 4:17 PM

      Sounds great, Ernesto, and I think it’s always a good start when there are few actual ‘facts’ in the public domain, that way you can really let your imagination rip.


  5. 10/06/2017 at 12:31 PM

    This is a pretty neat post Colin. What’s the age range on your series? It sounds fun? Something to keep in mind as my little one gets older.


    • 10/06/2017 at 4:14 PM

      I’d like to say the age range is 9-90, but maybe that’s a bit ambitious. Other folk have cited the first book as MG/YA, so I’d go with that, though I know some kids can’t handle stuff that’s too scary. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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