Sometimes it takes a specific thing to unlock the magic of a story as I write. It can be a title, a hair-raising scene, a great "what if" question. In the case of my third book, The Best of Evil, two keys appeared in my hand--or my imagination.
The first was a passage of scripture. I read in Romans 12:21, "Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good." The best of evil. What a title. Now, it may have implied something even darker than the scope of this book, but it cornered the theme I wanted to explore. How could one man with a sordid, violent past turn things around and choose good over evil?
The door was cracked. This book was about to reveal itself to me in the writing.
The second key was the name of my main character.
There are so many instantly identifiable names in fiction, from Miss Marple to Jack Reacher to Harry Potter. I wanted something unique, which also gave readers a feel for the character. I thumbed through nonfiction books for a name, tried old phonebooks, even discarded magazines. I was on the hunt for that perfect name.
One day I picked up The Three Musketeers. As a writer and reader, I reread passages from favorite books the way some people look through old family photographs. They mean something special to me. In this classic novel, I came across the name Aramis, one of the original musketeers.
Aramis. I liked that a lot. I just needed something else to capture his dark side and his attempts to escape the past by opening his own espresso shop.
Aramis Black? Perfect. Just add in some ground coffee beans.
I took these two keys, ran them up on a string like ole Ben Franklin, and lightning struck. I knew I had the beginning of a great new series.
To this day, I get more emails about this series than any other. Oddly, the second book called A Shred of Truth, a personal favorite of mine, is one of my lowest selling books despite the passionate readers. Did they all borrow it from the library? I don't know. As a result, the third book was never commissioned or published.
Someday, perhaps. You can find out more about this on my website, www.WilsonWriter.com, under the title Three Fatal Blows.
In the meantime, go check out the first two books in the Aramis Black series and see if they stir any magic for you. They certainly did for me. As my editor said at the time, Aramis Black is Eric Wilson on steroids.