I think it's very rare that a book is inspired by a single thing or in a single moment. That's certainly true of "Blood" and "The Mercian Trilogy". Even for inspiration to strike it has to be sparking off something, and in my case it was a series of lifelong interests, from history and landscape to vampires and folklore.

As it happens, the first thing I ever wrote for myself (as opposed to school work), was a long semi-prose poem about a vampire, written from the vampire's point of view, sympathetic to his predicament. I was about 14, too influenced by Byron, the poem remained unfinished and is fortunately long lost...

Other activities and other interests intervened. I studied international relations and wrote books that dealt with a different kind of darkness, the world of espionage and crime.

Then in early 2006 I was toying with an idea for a ghost story and had even written a few chapters, when a couple of things conspired to make me change course.

The first was that I took an unexpected diversion because a road I often travelled along was closed. That diversion took me past an ancient hill fort which I’d seen many times from a different angle without realizing what it was. Later in the same week I was out with family and friends when we called in at a remote and abandoned country church. These two random and apparently insignificant events set a thought process in motion, bringing together ideas that had been developing for years, together with memories of other churches and historical sites I’d seen, with memories of Lancaster and York and Durham and countless other towns and cities.

The effect was so powerful and the ideas gelled so quickly, that I abandoned my ghost story and started work on “Blood”, the first book of what I already knew would be “The Mercian Trilogy”. Usually, I spend months thinking through the plot of a book before I start writing, but in this case I wrote the first line, “We burned the witches in 1256. It was the last time I really enjoyed a fire”, and I just kept writing. The book was completed in six weeks. At the time a friend asked how I’d managed to write it so quickly, and I told her with complete honesty that it felt as if the book had been there inside me all my life, just waiting to be written.
  KJ Wignall

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