Where do ideas come from?

In the case of 'A World Invisible', some of the ideas arrived quite steadily, like buses on a well-run route, and some had to be dragged up from the cellars, bumping up the steps and fighting all the way. Some jumped me when my back was turned. Some were useful, some were quickly jettisoned, and some were simply wonderful…inspired, in fact.

Ideas are definitely helped by the act of writing – start committing words to paper and more words come – but sometimes they arrive when my conscious mind is occupied on something quite other. That always feels miraculous, but it is difficult to trust in it happening.

Here are some of the kick-off moments for 'A World Invisible':

The V&A…Well, obviously. I thought it would be a great setting for a story, but the idea of the collection concealing certain objects in full view came from out of left field. I imagined Rebecca noticing Michael, also drawing, as she does in the opening of the book, and then had to work out who he was.

The idea of a world, not ours, and invisible to us, yet one that can be reached if the circumstances are in our favour is, of course, a familiar one. I was always attracted to – and intrigued by – C S Lewis, Nicholas Stuart Gray and Alan Garner. So close and yet… Somehow these worlds interest me much more than the 'high fantasy' worlds which exist in fiction unsupported by our own existence.

Ashendon House and its extraordinary collection was lifted from Snowshill Manor, now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. I found myself wondering why on earth anyone would save so much that was really hardly special, be so interested in the mundane, and why someone would become so eccentric. Perhaps he didn't become eccentric at all, but just was very different…

And yes, I once knew an old lady rather like Rebecca's Aunt Edie, who lived in a house very like the one in this story. And she did indeed from time to time have a young relative using the top floor as temporary accommodation.

CS Lewis, J R R Tolkein and Alan Garner are mentioned by my ancient College Fellows long trem residents behind the boathouse on the south bank of the Thames just before they admit to their felonious acquisition of Charles Dodgson's missing diaries.

A World Denied is the sequel to A World Invisible and leaves a few trails which are explored in the final book of the trilogy, A World Possessed.

A World Denied: