Last week I asked subscribers - and fans - which story they would most like me to pursue as an online serialized novel. As you can see from the graph, the most popular choice was for The Essene Heresy.
This result surprised me - mainly because of all the stories listed it's probably the one that would be least like anything else I've written!
Don't get me wrong - that doesn't make it an unattractive project. Far from it. But what's clear is that over 51% chose the story simply because they thought it sounded good - and not particularly because it's the kind of story people would associate with me. But that's fine!
I've spent the last week drawing up plans, researching history, juggling the plot and the characters in my mind. It's been quite a mental adventure.
As I said last week, I originally had little more than a synopsis for this idea. Most of the other story ideas - like Purge, Dead Center and Jack and the Wild - are fully plotted. Not so with the The Essene Heresy - until now.
During the last week I've made a whole bunch of notes concerning the main story which I've decided I'm going to split into three parts:
Part One: The Second Scroll - where the protagonists and the bad guy are seeking out the legendary twin of the famous Essene Copper Scroll - in the hope they might find the whereabouts of a sacred book.
Part Two: Sacred Books - where the UK, US and Israeli governments get involved in stopping the protagonists, a German drug company and a group of mercenaries from retrieving sacred books from The Holy Land.
Part Three: Buried Treasure - where the action - and story arcs - culminate in a battle over Essene sacred artifacts in the land (and minefields) around the Qumran caves.
Obviously it's a lot more complicated than that, but it's a start. I decided to plot the first part reasonably fully - but leave the second two parts with a looser structure until later on, when I can see how the story is unfolding.
I've drawn up story arcs for most of the main characters. It's not something I normally do but for this action/adventure thriller, I thought it was necessary.
Especially because I probably have too many potential characters at the moment - and I need to work out which ones are essential to the final story.
Here's an example of the hero's arc:
Jake Moss is 32. He was born in Boston to parents who died in a car crash when he was seventeen. Jake is a regular guest psychic on a radio show where he's famous for 'remote viewing.' During a live broadcast his bitter ex-wife calls in to expose Jake as a fraud. Jake suffers a crisis of confidence and wonders if he really is psychic - or ever was. He leaves Boston and heads for a small town in Australia to lose himself - and perhaps find himself too. He's hunted down and approached by Danica Palmer, a UK TV presenter who wants him to help her find lost Essene artifacts for an upcoming show she's producing. Jake doesn't want to do it at first but his resolve is sharpened by a mounting trail of bodies that result from a seemingly insane global hunt for the artifacts. Throughout the story, Danica teaches Jake to trust his instincts. By the end, Jake can see that with more trust in his intuition and Danica's belief in him, he can achieve anything.
And for good measure, here's the arc for the antagonist:
Wilhelm Beidermann is old by corporate standards and in danger of being voted off the board of Maximo Therapeutics, despite being its CEO. He needs to spearhead a new drug to save his career and pass on a legacy to his only son. Hearing about a lost Essene scroll that appears to detail a magical elixir of youth, he assumes they might be referring to a hitherto undiscovered drug that could prolong life - and even be responsible for the Christian stories about resurrection. Gaining no support for research from the MT board of directors, Beidermann engages a team of mercenaries to seek out the lost Essene treasure. Wilhelm quickly gets in over his head and realizes the commandos are much more violent than he was ready for. However, giddy with power and the promise of the Holy Grail, he continues. By the end of the story he realizes, too late, he's gone too far.
I have lots more notes on locations, research and pieces of the plot but I don't want to overwhelm you at this stage - or spoil the story!
Suffice it to say, the first part of the serialized novel of The Essene Heresy will most likely begin next week. My good friend and novelist Chris Ryall has offered to edit and proof the story as it appears.
Interestingly, some people who emailed me about the story said they weren't sure about having zombies in it. I'm still in two minds. I think the story will work without zombies - but that it's an option that is still available at this stage.
If you want to share your thoughts and ideas, I'm happy to hear them. About anything to do with the story.