So … while working on the Spider John historical mysteries, I have been working on another potential series as well — a modern-day crime series set in a fictional Ohio county.
And I had a title for the work in progress on that second series. I was going to call it “Powder Keg,” as the novel revolves around a tense situation that threatens to blow up any minute.
But the more I thought about it, I realized “Powder Keg” was a great title for a future Spider John pirate mystery. Right? Pirate ships have literal powder kegs. Sometimes they explode. It’s a natural fit.
Despite that perfectly piratical title, though, I did not have a Spider John plot to go with it. I have four Spider John books sorted out — one written, one in progress and two more being mapped out for future writing. They all have titles, and “Powder Keg” does not fit any of them particularly well.
This is where Pirate Batman comes swooping in on a rope to save the day.
I had seen photos of this “alternative world” pirate Batman many times, because Batman is the greatest comic book hero ever and I have great taste. For one reason or another, I started wondering how a Batman-type figure would work in a pirate world. I pondered the essential elements of the Batman story: a tragic past, a life lived with vengeance as its prime motivator, a large amount of inherited wealth and willpower, plus a secret identity.
I plopped those elements into a pirate environment, tweaked them greatly, and before too long I had a pretty good plot for what I thought might be a good, action-oriented pulpy short story. It didn’t seem like a Spider John story; it wanted to be its own thing.
But then I thought, maybe it could be a small part of a Spider John story … a background element, or an inciting episode … perhaps …
The next thing you know, I am telling it all to Gere and sitting down to make notes. I still have a subplot or two to work out, and one character I have no idea what to do with, and I need to revise the order of future books, because this one fits perfectly after book two, “The Devil’s Wind.”
But I now have a perfect plot to go under the title “Powder Keg.”
Oh, and my agent and publisher need not worry. There are no pirates dressing up as bats in this book. Probably. — Steve