Friday, June 24, 2016

The Birth of a Serpent by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

Ever wonder how other novelists get their ideas?

We were strolling out of Islands of Adventure years ago. It had been a good day. Our family had enjoyed a sun-soaked, July afternoon in the Orlando-based theme park, but it was late. It was still hot. We were tired and on a quest—for A/C.

The park has a central corridor leading into (and out of) the complex designed to mimic storefronts one might find nestled in a fairy tale land. It’s a quaint section—one I’d like to pattern my backyard after someday. However, air conditioning beckoned us inside a long string of shops instead of enjoying the scenery.

Our tribe slowly traipsed through the aisles of wares. No one wanted to buy anything material. We just wanted to get cool before we made the long trek to the parking lot.
During the slow walk through the displays or merchandise, I was drawn to the far end of the store. Hanging from the ceiling, suspended by wires, was a replica of a dinosaur. A fossil of a marine reptile, to be precise. The placard on the wall told the story of the real fossil, found in Ulianova, Russia. Now possessed by the Iwaki Museum of Coal and Fossils in Tokyo, Japan, the real fossil was supposed to look just like the one overhead.

I don’t know where Ulianova, Russia is exactly. Google can’t find a city by that name, but it does find “Ulyanovsk.” If that city is the correct location of the find, then finding any marine reptile, dinosaur-like or not, in that specific location is quite a feat. Just click on the link above and see for yourself. Yes, it’s near a water source, but there are only cold waters around there. Too cold for any marine reptiles to exist and a long way from the nearest warm water sea or ocean. Thus the importance of the find.

And thus the pique of my curiosity.

The replica was classified in the pliosaur family due to its alligator-like body and flipper-like appendages. The thing looked like an obese, 25-foot long crocodile with flippers. And here’s the kicker. Paleontologists, scientists, archeologists, and the like had never seen a fossil like this one before. Hence, they called it pliosaur sp. It was a “new” species. Well, new to scientists, that is.

I stood there studying the fossil, imagining what it would be like to meet that bad boy in the ocean. Then, it hit me. It was a species of animal never before known to exist. Now, suddenly, here it was in fossilized form, telling us we don’t know as much as we think we do.

Then, I remembered reading back in middle school of an extinct species caught off the coast of Africa in 1938. They were thought to be long gone. Fossils to be dug up in some bank of dirt or rock from eons long past. But there they were, alive and well, swimming around in the Indian Ocean.

I grabbed a map of the theme park, jotted down the information on the placard, and tucked the information away in my files when I got home.

Some months later on vacation, sitting on a balcony of a condo in Cocoa Beach, Florida, I overlooked the ocean, watching the boats move across the horizon. People were swimming and surfing in the breakers. Others were strolling on the beach. Still others rode bicycles or jogged. The roar of the surf, mixed with a steady breeze off the water, easily relaxed me as I stretched out on the little love seat. With my feet propped, my imagination began to race ahead again. Remembering the fossil hanging from the ceiling along with the rest of the background knowledge I had accumulated over the years, a question began to percolate. What if there was a species still out there…one that still existed…yet was still unknown to modern science? And not only unknown, but prehistoric? And a deep diver? How would that impact scientific belief?

Snatching a legal pad and pen from my belongings, a scene began to emerge in the movie screen of my mind. I started scribbling words. Those words became Chapter 1 and 2 of the soon-to-be-reprinted version of my book.

Over the next several months, as I wrote in my spare time, often in the wee hours of the morning or burning that last inch of midnight oil, I spent hours researching in an attempt to make the book as believable as possible while at the same time giving the reader appealing facts to hold their interest. It was in several of those research forays where I came across articles and books pertaining to incidents occurring in my book. It was like the news was checking to see what I needed at the time. Articles about monkeys, rodents, and other species being found by scientists for the first time…stories telling about new prehistoric fossils being discovered…remarkable tales of scientific discoveries by reputable scientists and organizations were steadily quantifying, verifying, and solidifying my beliefs. What was portrayed in the book by the characters was becoming increasingly exhilarating, to say the least. 

The answering of those questions referenced above, coupled with the Atlantic Ocean on the horizon acting as a sudden, yet apropos, source of inspiration, is how The Serpent’s Grasp was born.

A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years of experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) is scheduled for reprint with Hallway Publishing, Spring 2017. Kevin’s second book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is also scheduled for reprint this fall, with Book 2 due out later in the year. Kevin also has had articles appear in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson