In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I have an essay up at The Awl about an early, failed novel writing:
My first serious attempt to write a novel was, somewhat unfortunately, inspired by The Da Vinci Code. I was a college sophomore when I decided to try NaNoWriMo, and a few months into a busy school year, The Da Vinci Code and its cousin The Rule of Four were probably the last books I had read for fun. I was a medieval history and literature major particularly obsessed with England, and my moment of book inspiration came while thinking about the 12th-century murder of Thomas Becket: then archbishop of Canterbury, soon-to-be saint, and obviously the perfect fulcrum for a novel.
While wandering through the history section of Barnes & Noble, I had seen a book called The Quest for Becket’s Bones: The Mystery of the Relics of St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury. I hadn’t read it, but a mystery about a saint’s bones—a saint killed violently after a king’s tantrum about him—seemed (probably only to me) like a perfect seed for a modern mystery with medieval parallels. So I ordered the book and, without reading it, began planning my own. The King’s Evil, the title I gave my novel, was actually a phrase used to describe scrofula, a kind of tuberculosis, and had nothing to do with Becket or anyone connected to his story. I just liked the way it sounded.
The rest is here.