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Soulkeepers—Where it all began

If you are wondering where I get my ideas from, the short answer is ‘everywhere’. We don’t have space for a long answer, but ideas can come from many different places. Each of my novels was inspired by a different event. In this article, I’ll tell you where the specific ideas that led to Soulkeepers came from.
Soulkeepers Fantasy Adventure
Brotherhood Castle. Soulkeepers, Steve Dean's Fantasy Novel. Image: Cherie Fox

The idea for this novel started with two words; Soul Jar. I can’t remember how they came together in my head, but I found myself wondering what a Soul Jar was. It obviously contained a soul, I thought, and would, therefore, need to be a magical device. But who would use one, and why?

Some non-writers seem to think all ideas arrive in a writer’s head fully formed, after a sudden moment of revelation. Although this is partly true, inspiration can deliver – especially at odd and often inconvenient moments – but mostly it’s a matter of taking that first idea and working it, turning it around and looking from different angles. That’s what I did with the Soul Jar, firstly imagining what one would look like. It would be small of course, as souls have no weight, but large enough to be practical. It followed that this would be a fantasy world, so the Soul Jars would be made of clay, which is easy to work and can be carved with magic runes.

With that in mind, I turned to who would use them, and why. My first thought was someone evil because capturing souls isn’t a good thing to be doing. Then I looked at it from the opposite angle. What if the person capturing the soul wasn’t evil, but misguided, and they thought it was a good thing? And why? Because taking someone’s soul kept them safe. No, because they’d be dead. What if they only took part of the soul, so the person would still be alive? Well, then you’d have control over them. And who might consider themselves good, and also be interested in souls?

And that’s where it all came together. The Brothers are an order of monks who take part of a baby’s soul at birth to control them, to keep them safe, and to bring peace and prosperity into everyone’s life. From their point of view, they’re doing the right thing.

With that sorted out, all I needed was some heroes. I decided three would be about right. As I have three children, I used some aspects of their personalities to create the main characters. The character’s ages meant the story would be aimed mainly at young adults. So, with the basic plot worked out, and the main characters done, I started writing.

This is where it all went wrong, of course. If everyone is a passive, mind-controlled virtual slave, where’s the story? I finally worked out that my three characters can’t be like the other people, but why are they different? Sciel was easy because he’s not human, but what about Garen and Kymar? Maybe some people react differently to the soul-trapping spell. Most people are affected the same way, but some are more, or less, affected. Some become mindless zombies and are disposed of. Some aren’t affected at all and become trouble causes.

In the end, it all worked out, luckily. Those people who didn’t react in the normal way to the spell would need to be taken care of, and the Brothers wouldn’t do that, so the Peacekeepers were born. These individuals could be those who are only slightly controlled but are still able to think for themselves to varying amounts. Those not affected at all, like Garen, would need to be found and either captured or executed. With all that in place, I started again. After more work, lots more work, and several months of writing, Soulkeepers was born.

I went through several titles, including such things as Soul Stealers and The Soul Dungeon. In the end, I decided to go with the more ambiguous title because the Brothers aren’t evil as such. Although this isn’t a great work of literature, it does examine some of life’s deeper issues. For instance, the nature of evil, of right and wrong, and the change of the perception of such things according to one’s perspective.

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