The first idea that I had for this book was this. I am writing a fantasy. Therefore, I can have whatever I want, go wherever I want, make whatever happen I want. So I decided to have a plague of vampyres wipe out humanity. Yeah! Take that, humanity. What next? Well, there have to be some survivors...
Survivors. The next obvious question is, who are these survivors, how do they survive, where do they survive? All questions with a variety of possible answers, but mine were, respectively: a rag-tag bunch of refugees (the ‘lucky’ ones), by the skin of their teeth, on a remote, tiny island.
Next question: who’s the main character going to be? What will happen to them? (The Plot). Will their character change over the course of the book? Well, because of the target audience, the main character kind of has to be a teenager, right? The sex of the main character has a bearing on lots of things – how other characters treat them, for a very good example. Elsie Smith is a girl, if you hadn’t guessed. Because this is a fantasy, and as its author I can make anything happen, I’m going to take her from the little island back to the mainland, where survival is impossible... or almost impossible. It is just about possible to survive by a combination of luck, skill and bravery: so our character has a thorough test.
Other characters? Well, a companion. No companion, no one to talk to, no conversation. Arguments are more interesting than chat, so let’s have them not get on. Let’s have the companion be a boy, too. Let’s have his character be diametrically opposed to Elsie’s, and have him be a mass of enigma (why is he called Zero? Why does he have an apparent death-wish?).
Why do Elsie and Zero have to journey to the vampyre-infested mainland? Why, because they have to rescue someone. There has to be a reason to risk everything in this enterprise, for Elsie at least, so let’s have the lost person be her sister, and have Elsie driven out anyway.
Whether Elsie and Zero succeed in their quest – well, that’s not, in the end, the point of the story. The point is what happens to Elsie, how what happens changes her as a person.