Where do novels come from?

4 Nov 2013

The Missing One by Lucy Atkins

I now have the cover image, and the blurb for The Missing One.  It has been a long road, but it began when I was staying at a friend’s cabin on Whidbey Island, Washington State (http://www.visitwhidbey.com) during a trip back to Seattle with my family. We lived in Seattle for four years, my second child was born there, and the landscape of the Pacific Northwest has  always seemed incredibly mysterious and intriguing to me. At my friend’s cabin, one rainy day, with all three of my children miraculously napping, I picked up a magazine and read an article about a pioneering marine biologist called Alexandra Morton (here she is:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandra_Morton). Morton was one of the first scientists to study the language of killer whales. She also happened to be a young mother, in the 1980s, who took her baby  – later toddler/small child) out with her on the ocean, chasing killer whales, listening to their interactions, even moving to a tiny floating house on a British Columbian Island. I was gripped by her story. And from that one leisurely afternoon read, my character – Elena – was born. There were numerous drafts. Several complete abandonments – and a few non-fiction books. Then a whole new plot direction – into suspense, madness, fear – and now, here it is: The Missing One. My Elena, of course, is nothing like the real Alexandra Morton. Mine, for a start, has a daughter, Kali, who launches herself out in search of her mother’s secrets. But what has amazed me most throughout this process is how a single idea – nap time with a magazine in my case – can cling inside the mind and not let go, for years and years – until it’s finally released.

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