Where do you get your best story ideas? Kat wrote a few days ago about being inspired by Mary Colter, architect and independent woman of the early 20th century. My golden nuggets often come from the news, and maybe it’s the advent of Spring, but I feel as though I’m being bombarded with amazing stuff at the moment. None of it’s romance-related, but I’m not complaining. Anything that keeps the imagination firing must be a good thing, right?
Today I was going to write a useful post about creating a series bible, but then I saw this article on the BBC website and knew I had to share it.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the full thing, the short version is that when Albert Einstein died, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy sawed open the great man’s cranium, removed its contents, and kept them. The article is fascinating – the story of how Dr. Thomas Harvey kept the brain for more than 40 years, from Einstein’s death in 1955 until he returned it to the University Medical Center of Princeton in 1998, and what various eminent scientists who received samples found (or didn’t find).
Two snippets from the article turned it from a gruesome curiosity into a story starter:
Among those who tried to take it from him [Dr. Harvey] was the US Army. “They felt that having it would put them on a par with the Russians, who were collecting their own brains at that time,” says Abraham. “People were collecting brains – it was a thing.”
The military was collecting brains? It was a thing? Holy smoke, Mary Shelley was way ahead of the game.
“This was supposed to have been his [Dr. Harvey’s] great good luck charm but in fact it was much more like a relic cursed,” says Abraham. “He lost everything after he took that brain. He lost his job, he lost his marriage, he lost his career at Princeton.”
So could you make a super-weapon from the brains of remarkable people? If the idea isn’t too squicky for you, how would you tell the story? Classic horror, adventure, sci-fi, paranormal?
- A special forces zombie task-force – assemble your teams from the most brilliant people who’ve ever lived, provided you can find their brains. You could add new characters at any time, and you’d have Victorian-style body snatchers and a race between the good guys and the bad guys to track down the remains of Somebody Legendary. You could make a gruesome series out of this that would run forever, and it would be perfect for online gaming.
- Or a James Bond story? A top-secret hi-tech room somewhere, full of brains in tanks, linked up to a super-duper computer by an evil genius who’s out to destroy the world.
- Or perhaps the only way to use the brains is to make them into a milk-shake and ask for a volunteer, who will be changed forever in ways we can’t be sure of. I’m wondering who should star in this. Matt Damon? Or Will Smith?
- Or perhaps the military find that the brainpower thing works better if you don’t wait till people die of old age, so brilliant people start disappearing and anyone who asks questions gets warned off with extreme prejudice.
- Or maybe the experiments unleash an ancient and terrible curse and the story is about how to break the curse before it destroys the world. Son of Indiana Jones, perhaps?
There are so many ways this story could go. I’m even thinking maybe were-cheetahs were a by-product of these experiments, Michaeline 😉 .
Also in the news this week:
Hatton Garden Heist
Over the Easter weekend, thieves raided the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company, supposedly the London Jewellery Quarter’s most secure storage. In what’s being suggested as an inside job, thieves climbed down a lift-shaft, spent about 24 hours drilling through two metres of reinforced concrete, forced open safety deposit boxes, and took the CCTV footage with them when they left. The Daily Telegraph has a great quote from a former police expert: “There are less than a handful of individuals who have got the wherewithal to be able to get the insider information and have the contacts and financial clout to put this job together.” Right up there with George and Brad’s finest moments.
Huge Oilfield in Southern England
A company called UK Oil & Gas Investments recently announced that it has made a significant oil find in West Sussex, close to Gatwick airport. There are indications that the oilfield may lie under Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and at current prices could be worth just under $500 billion. That’s a lot of money potentially lying under some beautiful, unspoiled and historic countryside. So much conflict there – thrillers, family sagas, a time-slip?
Historic Sea-bed Silver
A salvage team has recovered 100 tonnes of silver rupees worth an estimated $50 million from the deep ocean floor. The steamship carrying it from Bombay to England was torpedoed in the South Atlantic in 1942. Of the 311 people aboard, six died when the ship was sunk, and a further 104 died adrift on lifeboats. You could tell the story of the treasure hunt, but wouldn’t it make a better historical, or a ghost story?
If the fate of Einstein’s brain is too gross for you, what would you do with one of the other stories? Or did something else unexpectedly stimulate your grey matter this week?