There's a story behind every story, and it's usually kicked off by one of the most famous, age-old questions asked by fiction writers: What if?
From the international news media to observations you make in your local street, there is always someone or something about which you could let your mind wander and ask "What if...?" It's what writers do while other people are being sensible and getting on about their business.
Some years ago, while researching something completely different, I stumbled upon an intriguing fact: in the United States each year, over 1,000 unidentified, deceased bodies are found. And there are comparative figures in many countries around the world. Manner of death varies, as do the locations in which the bodies are found. Most are found on land. Some have drowned and are found in rivers, in the ocean, or on beaches.
In some cases it is weeks, months, even years before the bodies are identified.
In 1998, the body of a young girl was finally identified, thiry years after her body had been found in mountains.
In 2000, a man discovered on an English beach remained unidentified for six years.
Here's the kicker- a small percentage of these bodies are never identified. They are never reported missing. No-one ever comes forward with any information. Exhaustive forensic searches turn up no solutions.
In the 1930's, a devastating fire claimed the lives of hundreds of people at a busy circus. The remains of a young girl were found on the site. No one has ever known who she was or where she was from.
As anyone would, I wondered who on earth these people could have been. What was their story? How could it be that no-one missed them?
I asked myself the following: 'What if there were several unidentied drowning cases, in different countries, that were similar in nature? Who could they be? What led to their deaths? Why were they never reported missing?"
How would the police go about pursuing the answers? What would be the personal impact on the investigators? What would be the effect on their lives and their relationships?
'The Delta Chain' imagines just such a scenario and follows the trail through the efforts of a young detective, Adam Bennett, and several others who are drawn into the evolving mystery.
It's been a long and winding road but this month I've published 'The Delta Chain' in paperback and ebook editions.
Moral of this blog is that when you ask yourself that 'What if...?" question you can never be too certain where it will ultimately lead. For both writers and readers, that's what makes the craft of storytelling so addictive.