I first had the idea for my novel Psi in early 2011. Back then, the story was called Viet Psi and was about five psychic soldiers in Vietnam. I began writing it and quickly ran into a slight snag: I knew nothing about Vietnam. I relocated the characters to a place I did know about, Durban.
My plan was to introduce a new main character in each of the first five chapters. So in Chapter 1 we’d meet Character A, in Chapter 2 Character B and so on. Except when I wrote about Character C, a boy called Richard who could create fires with his mind, I found myself writing the next chapter about him too. And the next. I forgot about the other characters. The story became Richard’s story.
From there, Psi took some unexpected turns. Characters I’d never planned showed up, like the author/telekinetic Oscar Ford and the gorgeous, intelligent but strange Claire Rautenbach.
Psi ended up drawing inspiration from an array of places: dragon mythology, murder mysteries, Robert Frost poems, a song by the Eagles, popular science and a childhood game that I loved a lot.
It’s a very different story to the one I set out to write. But, maybe, that’s a good thing.