Solomon Creed is the first in a new series of epic thrillers that span the world, focusing on the enigmatic title character. But who is Solomon Creed and where did he come from? In this new column Simon Toyne discusses the genesis of his new series, focusing on ideas, characters, research and writing.

Part 1: Ideas

‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ This is, by far, the question writers get asked the most, and – with all due respect to all the many people who’ve asked it – it’s the wrong question. Because ideas are common place, everyone has ideas all the time, and it doesn’t really matter where they come from, it’s what you do with them that matters.

I thought I’d break down the process of how the book came into being and inevitably the starting point for that is the idea. Maybe a better question to ask a writer would be: ‘Why did you pick this idea?’

For me it’s instinctive. I react to something and think about it and if it has enough gravity I go with it. I keep an ideas file on my laptop into which I collect all kinds of things – links to articles, half-baked thoughts, quarter-baked thoughts, single words, images, links to music videos, anything that has caught my attention for long enough for me to deem it worth remembering.

‘For me it’s instinctive. I react to something and think about it and if it has enough gravity I go with it.’

Solomon started life as a one line idea that came to me in the middle of writing The Key, book two of The Sanctus trilogy. I find ideas often pop up when I’m thinking about something else. It’s as if your mind swings open and all kinds of things get blown in. The key is to write them down before they blow out again, in fact that’s probably the best advice for writing I can give and it applies to every stage of the process – write it down.

Solomon Creed – a nearly five-hundred page novel – started life as this:

‘A man with no memory has to save the souls of ten other people in order to ultimately redeem his own and discover who, or what, he really is.’

That was it, jotted down in haste while I was in the middle of writing something else. I think the thing that drew me to this idea in particular when I was sifting through all the stuff in my file, looking for inspiration was its simplicity and the implied notion of a journey it carried. If this man had to save all those people but they were in one place it would be far too easy. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge? No, he had to go and find them. He had to go on a classic quest. So I knew it was an idea that would take me places and give me lots of scope, lots of landscapes and situations to explore. The other thing that chimed with me is the fact that we’re all on a journey of discovery, so it also had the universal scale I look for in a subject, and it had mystery, particularly in the central character. He has no memory so he needs to remember, and I liked the idea of that too.

Once I have the seed of a story – the ‘what’ – the next thing I do is start thinking of the ‘who’. The characters. My characters always evolve from the needs of the story so to find out how Solomon Creed the man came into being click here tomorrow, on the next stop of the Solomon Creed blogtour.

Simon Toyne is the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy: Sanctus, The Key and The Tower. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive to focus on writing. It was the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK and an international bestseller. His books have been translated into 27 languages and published in over 50 countries.

Solomon Creed is the first in a new series of epic thrillers that will span the world and centre around the enigmatic title character.