It’s not often a writer can say where they get their ideas from. Indeed, if you were to Google ‘where do writers get their ideas from’, I daresay you would find a host of writers bemoaning this simple question. But in regard to The Eagle In the Dovecote, I can say exactly how and when I got the idea for the book.
It was while watching a cinema broadcast of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus back in 2017 (I think). This was a production that had been staged to great acclaim at London’s Donmar Theatre and starred Tom Hiddleston in the title role.
Coriolanus was not a Shakespeare play I was particularly familiar with. I knew of it, had read some of it, but had no idea how the play ended. I had an idea, got from where, I don’t know, that it was a dull play, overly political and slow, but hey, Tom Hiddleston was in it, so it was worth a watch. If you’re interested, a full text of the play is available at Gutenberg .
I thoroughly enjoyed the production. It was very spare, using practically no props, but it worked brilliantly. Tom Hiddleston was superb in the role, as was Mark Gatiss as Menenius Agrippa and Deborah Findlay as Volumnia.
The play is about pride and politics. Coriolanus is a proud soldier who is expected to become a politician. He fails spectacularly at the latter and is exiled from Rome at the very beginnings of the Roman Republic. The play’s subject matter was fascinating in itself, but as I watched, my brain began considering what Shakespeare didn’t write, and that was the background to the relationship between Coriolanus and his mother. There was a story there, I thought excitedly, and it was then that I decided I needed to write that story.
So, while The Eagle in the Dovecote is primarily a biographical novel of Caius Marcius, it is also a biographical novel of Volumnia, his mother, and the relationship they have. More is explored, of course, in the book, but for me, their relationship is the core. It’s fascinating, compelling and a little bit weird.
I hope you enjoy it.