My last blog, on the subject of da yoof, and how mixing with a fine sample of them had given me an idea for a new tvdetective plot, has prompted a couple of questions on the same theme.

Where do I get ideas for books from?

Well, the answer, albeit a little odd, is everywhere.

As I've mentioned before, I always carry a notebook to jot down thoughts. These can be as tiny as a detail of description - yesterday, for example, I scribbled a couple of lines about the impressive ruffling of a tree by a couple of frisky pigeons - or something much larger, like a concept for a whole book.

Looking back on the tvdetective series, most of the novels are based on one central theme. In The TV Detective, it's Dan's change of job and how that leads him to meet Adam.  The Death Pictures revolves around the central riddle and Evil Valley the hunt for an unbalanced man, and what he might do to take revenge on society. The Judgement Book is all about settling scores, and as for The Balance of Guilt - I can't say, because you don't get to know what the title refers to until the very end, and I don't want to spoil it if you haven't read it!

So I think that's how it works for me - to seek out one simple concept that might extend through a book and build on it.  I wonder if that's a reflection of my journalistic work.  One of the first things you learn as a cub hack is to be clear what your story is, and follow that narrative through.

Anyway, back to where the ideas themselves come from. One of the most common sources is the newspapers. I try to read a paper almost every day, time permitting, and some of the items can prompt plenty of thoughts about a possible plot.  But most of the work is done by our old and indispensable friend, the imagination.

Really, the secret of coming up with a good story - if one there even is - is simple. In my humble view, there's no substitute for sitting back in a quiet room, shutting your eyes, letting your mind wander and seeing where it may take you.

Difficult indeed in these busy times, but it works for me. Just giving your thoughts a chance, away from the noise and distractions of the world, and you can often be well rewarded.

If you've got a question about the tvdetective books, or any areas of my writing, you can get in touch via the contact page -  I'm always happy to hear from you.