Evonne: Remember, Remember …

the fifth of November – gunpowder, treason and plot.

It’s bonfire night – when the UK celebrates the thwarting of a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. One of history’s most famous conspiracies.  Plotting – of a different kind, is always a matter of interest to authors. Thriller writers in particular love a good conspiracy. In fact there are whole sub genres of conspiracy thrillers – some are based on real events, murders, assassinations, robberies. I confess that I’ve got a weakness for the more fanciful kind, the ones that are based on a chase, or a treasure hunt, and feature ancient secret societies and missing artifacts with terrible powers which must not be released on an unsuspecting world.  Of course the hero and heroine have to stop all that. And probably fall in love in the process …

My favourite real life conspiracy story involves the death of the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe, who was killed in a tavern brawl. Was he a spy, as well as a playwright? Was he murdered to keep him quiet – if so, why, and who gave the orders? We’ll never know, but there are numerous fascinating books that speculate about it.

Fictional conspiracy adventures of the fantasy kind have an essential list of ingredients – a secret organisation, with roots in the past, to do the conspiring, an object – often a book, or a piece of art , missing or hidden, that has to be discovered, or maybe kept hidden, or destroyed. There are usually significant historical buildings involved – libraries, churches, museums, abbeys, old houses – and to drive the plot, some sort of dreadful secret, that poses a threat to someone in the present world.

With all those, its tempting to play a variation on the famous detective board game and assemble your favourite ingredients. Although I hate caves (damp, dark and cold – three of my least favourite things) the Hellfire Club has always exerted a certain fascination. It was a group of 18th Century noblemen who met in caves in Buckinghamshire to get up to all sorts of debauchery and supposed black magic. The real thing was probably pretty nasty, but the romantic  trappings are very strong, when viewed from a distance. And plenty there for my chosen secret society. My artifact would probably be a book, and my building a castle or a ruined abbey. (My Gothic leanings are showing again!) My plot – ah, now we get more complicated – but it will have to involve a chase, and cryptic clues … Excuse me, I think I have an idea coming on …

I’d love to know what other people’s fantasy conspiracy ingredients would be. Or is it just me that plays games like this? (she asks, worriedly.)

Have a happy bonfire night, and if involves fireworks, please stay safe.

17 thoughts on “Evonne: Remember, Remember …

  1. Great post, Evonne – I too love those thrillers that involve ancient artifacts that must not be shown to the world or that have terrible powers. Great stuff! And I particularly like the ones with treasure of some sort, so if I were to write one myself it would have to include lots of gold I think 🙂

  2. I’m just working in elements of fantasy conspiracy on the part of the British Government into the current WIP, so this is very timely, Evonne (have you been peeking at my laptop?). Mine has the Government laying secret plans to overthrow the vampires, plans that were put in place a generation ago and are just now coming to light…. So there’s lots of computer stuff in there, since most running around can now be done virtually, along with research and digging into the past…

  3. Great post Evonne. Totally get it with the objects. I have three – incidently my most treasured items, that are to feature in a future project. They most definitely have a story to tell. Not fully sure what as yet – half way there after three years I think 🙂

  4. Hi Ladies – agree on the gold, Christina, if you are going to hunt treasure, and risk life and limb doing it, it had better have a bit of bling involved. Jane – you know I have access to a hero and heroine who read minds – no need to look at your lap top. They tell me what I need to know. 🙂 Sarah – now I am intrigued – what are the artefacts? Back to the mind reading 🙂

  5. My first consiracy artifact would be a precious stone……an emerald for preference. Diamonds don’t do it for me. And I’ve always loved the idea of a compromising photograph…..I’ve had a short story or three published around that one! Caves and churches? No, too cold and hard and been done a million times. But….there’s something exciting and dangerous and isolating about a lighthouse, I think…..hmmm, where’s my notepad?
    Great post, Evonne…it’s getting us all thinking!

  6. Hallo Evonne! Interesting post! First the back story: I’ve just acquired an app to read Kindle books on my Mac and to get me going they set me up with ‘Treasure Island.’ I was re-reading it on the train back from London last night. Now besides being superbly written, the plot bubbles along at a cracking pace, and being stuffed full of quotable lines: ‘a sea-faring man with one leg,’ ‘he was a master surgeon, him that ampytated me, Latin by the bucket…..’ the heart of the story is….conspiracy. The place is obviously Treasure island and the artifact the map, sown into an oilskin. It’s a bit light on the romance, though – so there’s a thought!

  7. Linda – I love emeralds, but I love diamonds too – in fact, I’ve never met a precious stone I didn’t like – just not met enough of them! And I never thought of a lighthouse …
    Fennie – the classics are often a good place for a good plot. Apparently, following the 50 shades phenomenon, there are plans to add some heat to some of the classics, and I’ve been told that Treasure Island is one of them! Not sure how that will turn out – can it be classed as romance 🙂

  8. Sorry, Evonne – a sampler, a rather old book (the middle pages of which have been cut out) and a ring. Believe there’s plenty of fodder there LOL. All acquired separately and on each occasion I asolutely HAD to have them. And of course,they are dancing around merrily in my head. Can’t wait to let them out. Have a few vampires and faeries to kill off first though 🙂 Sx

  9. Val’s and my novel has a kind of conspiracy, involving a sapphire and diamond necklace. A diary would be another conspiracy artifact. An old house, possibly a stately one, with lots of secret doors would be a good setting.

  10. It seems that Choc-liteers like their treasure hunts with the emphasis on the treasure – necklaces, rings 🙂 Thanks Sarah, for enlightening me – I’ll call off the mind readers! Liv – diaries are good – artefact and possible driver for the plot. We’re getting a very nice shopping list of DIY conspiracy data.

  11. Sorry my homework’s late, but I’m still chewing my pencil. I have absolutely no clue where I’d start with this – but I’ve enjoyed reading other peoples!

  12. Hi Chris – not homework, just fun. Bet ideas will occur to you sometime in the middle of next week – usually happens to me! Then your next might be a conspiracy thriller 🙂

  13. You’re so right, Evonne! And if that conspiracy thriller does suddenly come to me, I’ll make sure I acknowledge you!

  14. Funny you should mention the mystery surrounding Christopher Marlowe’s death. Like you I’ve always wanted to know what was truly behind it, but in the absence of any real evidence will have to resort to making something up or reading what others have made up. Just read “Prince” by Rory Clements (historical crime), which deals partly with CM’s death. I can recommend it.

  15. Late to the party…I have been trying to find treasure in my back garden. Around these parts there’s a rumour that one of King Arthur’s horses (his favourit one) collapsed and died from being ridden too hard. In the horse’s left ear was placed a miniature of Excalibur fashioned by water nymphs in their magic furnace under the river Wye. It was placed there by the king himself as a mark of respect for a faithful steed. Whomever finds the sword will have great success and everlasting life. Right, back to my digging…now where’s my horse shovel?

  16. Hi Henri – only way we’re going to find out about Kit is a time machine! I’ll add Prince to TBR list. Mandy – good luck with the search – do you think a metal detector would help?

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