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Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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How I Came to Write This Book

Whenever I start a new novel, I’m looking for three pillars upon which to build the story: a historical mystery, a bit of strange science, and intriguing locations. The Judas Strain started from a seed of a mystery. The famous Venetian explorer Marco Polo spent almost two decades in China, along with his father and uncle. Upon the trio’s return voyage, Kublai Khan granted the Polos fourteen ships and six hundred men to escort them home. But when they arrived in Italy, the Polos were down to two ships and eighteen men. What happened to the rest of the escort? Marco hinted at some mysterious tragedy but he refused to ever say exactly what had transpired…even on his deathbed, where he stated cryptically “I have not told you half of what I saw.” I thought such a mystery would make great fodder for a thriller. What if what destroyed Marco’s fleet were to arise again today?

The scientific angle arose from an interesting tidbit. I learned that the human body is composed of 100 trillion cells—but only ten percent is actually human! The other 90% is non-human: basically bacteria and parasites. So I wondered, what if that 90% decided to rebel against the human 10%?

Lastly, to compose this story required a bit of traveling: to Italy, Turkey, and the jungles of Cambodia. A large section of the book takes place among the Angkor ruins of Cambodia. It was an eye-opening journey into a country where landmines are still a risk and where colonial culture and Cambodian history blend in some beautiful ways. Yet, it’s also a haunted landscape, where in the recent past a quarter of the country’s population was brutally slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge. I knew I had to tell a story here.

So with these three pillars in place, I was ready to open the doors on The Judas Strain. I hope you enjoy the results. So grab your backpack and follow me!


Learn more about The Judas Strain.
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book


JamesRollins wrote:
Whenever I start a new novel, I’m looking for three pillars upon which to build the story: a historical mystery, a bit of strange science, and intriguing locations. The Judas Strain started from a seed of a mystery. The famous Venetian explorer Marco Polo spent almost two decades in China, along with his father and uncle. Upon the trio’s return voyage, Kublai Khan granted the Polos fourteen ships and six hundred men to escort them home. But when they arrived in Italy, the Polos were down to two ships and eighteen men. What happened to the rest of the escort? Marco hinted at some mysterious tragedy but he refused to ever say exactly what had transpired…even on his deathbed, where he stated cryptically “I have not told you half of what I saw.” I thought such a mystery would make great fodder for a thriller. What if what destroyed Marco’s fleet were to arise again today?

The scientific angle arose from an interesting tidbit. I learned that the human body is composed of 100 trillion cells—but only ten percent is actually human! The other 90% is non-human: basically bacteria and parasites. So I wondered, what if that 90% decided to rebel against the human 10%?

Lastly, to compose this story required a bit of traveling: to Italy, Turkey, and the jungles of Cambodia. A large section of the book takes place among the Angkor ruins of Cambodia. It was an eye-opening journey into a country where landmines are still a risk and where colonial culture and Cambodian history blend in some beautiful ways. Yet, it’s also a haunted landscape, where in the recent past a quarter of the country’s population was brutally slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge. I knew I had to tell a story here.

So with these three pillars in place, I was ready to open the doors on The Judas Strain. I hope you enjoy the results. So grab your backpack and follow me!


I love the idea of taking a historical mystery and really turning it into a present day one. I was wondering how much traveling you did because of such detail in this book so far..I am about half way through. So now i know :smileywink:. This sounds like it would make a great action/thriller movie!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Contributor
zonadude
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Registered: ‎08-03-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

I love your work. I generally have an interest in the area you write about, historical mystery wise, and I had just started reading about Marco Polo when I had heard it was to be one of the topics in the new novel. I love it! You are a master of your craft.

My question now is, what are YOU currently reading?
Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Hi Vivian,

After finishing THE JUDAS STRAIN, I searched all the previous books and created a list of all the places visited. Then I checkmarked off every place I've actually visited. It ended up I have visited 74.3% of the places I've written about. That said, I seldom travel specifically for research. I mostly travel for pleasure and keep detailed records.

Jim


Learn more about The Judas Strain.
Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Hi Zona...thanks for the question. What am I currently reading? During the book tour this past month, I read Harry Potter (of course), THE KITE RUNNER, and an Advanced Readers Copy of Jeff Long's sequel to DESCENT (titled DEEPER). They were all great. I'm currently reading a manuscript by Gary Braver, one of my favorite authors, titled SKIN DEEP.

Jim


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zonadude
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Wow, thank you for the reply, I will definately check out those titles when possible.

I recommended your book Map of Bones (my favorite among your titles) to my friend, and after he read it he immediately said it would make one heck of a movie. Any chance we could see a James Rollins based movie soon?
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

[ Edited ]

JamesRollins wrote:
Hi Vivian,

After finishing THE JUDAS STRAIN, I searched all the previous books and created a list of all the places visited. Then I checkmarked off every place I've actually visited. It ended up I have visited 74.3% of the places I've written about. That said, I seldom travel specifically for research. I mostly travel for pleasure and keep detailed records.

Jim


James, James,
Or may I call you Jim, I noticed you signed some of your posts Jim :smileyhappy:
Such a man of travel! I would hope as a writer you would take special notes of the places you have been! :smileywink: Actually, I had thought that you probably were well traveled and thats why I asked. I couldnt see you necessarily traveling to these places to research for you book idea, but rather that some of the places you have been to, sparked ideas of interesting places to set your story in. Sounds like that is the case huh and I am glad you take such notes, mental and otherwise that really add to the storyline. You do it so well.
I would love to travel. My income allows me to only seek out places around that you can do as they say... a trip on a tankful, but hey, I am discovering my state I guess LOL. But because of writers like you, I can visit many places, real or not and see them in my mind and so I am traveling with you vicariously through this book :smileyhappy:. Now,so that I do not post a spoiler here for those not this far along yet (and in hopes no one posts spoilers to any of it, so many of us are in the process of reading) I just wanted to say that where you specifically talk about in Istanbul, I looked it up. Found a great site of lots of wonderful pictures of the inside and out to share with everyone, when we get there. Truly a wonder. Thanks for being with us for this bookclub. Back to my popcorn and reading now :smileywink:

Message Edited by vivico1 on 08-03-2007 10:53 PM
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Any chance we could see a James Rollins based movie soon?

Actually most of the books have been optioned at one time or another...however, nothing has gone into full production. Maybe one of these days! The other movie-related project in the works: I'll be doing the novelization to the new Indiana Jones movie that's being filmed. I'm a big fan of the series, so I'm thrilled to be involved in the novelization. I'm also excited about the challenge. It's my first time to adapt a screenplay.

Jim


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Frequent Contributor
BillP
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Registered: ‎09-25-2006
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Wow, that's exciting! Have you gotten to read the screenplay? Any hints as to the storyline? (I've heard Fountain of Youth.) We promise not to tell anyone.




JamesRollins wrote:
Any chance we could see a James Rollins based movie soon?

Actually most of the books have been optioned at one time or another...however, nothing has gone into full production. Maybe one of these days! The other movie-related project in the works: I'll be doing the novelization to the new Indiana Jones movie that's being filmed. I'm a big fan of the series, so I'm thrilled to be involved in the novelization. I'm also excited about the challenge. It's my first time to adapt a screenplay.

Jim


Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Bill asks: "Have you gotten to read the screenplay? Any hints as to the storyline?"

I have indeed read the script. Unfortunately they have you sign in blood that you won't reveal any hints or tidbits. In fact, when faced with questions, I've been instructed to say "I can neither confirm nor deny." Ah, Hollywood!

Jim


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Stephanie
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Jim,

I'm wondering a little about the process of adapting a screenplay to a novel. Do you collaborate with the screenwriter? How much free rein do you have?
Stephanie
Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Yes, I do coordinate with the screenplay writer (in this case, the wonderful and supremely talented David Koepp)...mostly it's just a Q&A sort of thing. As to free rein, I'm not entirely sure yet as we're still at the very early stages at this point. I hope to add a bit to make the novelization worth reading, plus my own flare (grin).

Jim


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Jennie
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Registered: ‎08-07-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Jim
Without your "flare" it wouldn't be worth reading, even if it is Indiana Jones. Your books are the best!
Jennie B
Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Now THAT sentiment's even nicer than a tin full of homemade cookies!

Jim


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Jennie
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Does that mean I should write more flattery instead of baking you more cookies when you are in town? Only kidding. You can have cookies any time you want them as long as you keep writing!
Your books ARE the best and I am sure they picked you to write the novelization because of your writing style. It is perfect for Indiana. Even better that you really like the series.
Jennie B
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Jim,

I suppose keeping the story "true" will be important to many people, but I think that there's no reason not to add to it- after all, a book has a capacity for much more depth than a movie just in showing the reader what's on the characters' minds. I'm looking forward to your descriptions as well- you manage to give a clear image without overdoing it every time.
Stephanie
Author
JamesRollins
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Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Thanks, Stephanie! I'm looking forward to the challenge of this novelization, balancing my creative energy within the structure demanded by the studio. It should be fun...or so I keep telling myself (grin).

Jim


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Stephanie
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Jim,

I hope it'll be a fun project for you. I can see where it might get a little strange though- can you imagine how many times you're going to have to view and pause, view and pause? Sorry, I'm not helping, am I?
Stephanie
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vivico1
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book


Stephanie wrote:
Jim,

I hope it'll be a fun project for you. I can see where it might get a little strange though- can you imagine how many times you're going to have to view and pause, view and pause? Sorry, I'm not helping, am I?


I dont know how going from screen to novel instead of novel to screen works too much but wouldnt it be more about yeah seeing it but more about having a copy of the screenplay and writing from that? I am curious as to how that works too Jim. I dont think its the watch, pause , write, watch, pause, write thing tho lol. But how do you do it?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
JamesRollins
Posts: 105
Registered: ‎07-25-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

The process starts with the screenplay, which is all visual. I have to create the internal: the thoughts, inner fears, reactions. Plus (hopefully) expanding upon elements brushed upon in the movie that I can elaborate in the novel. At least, that's how I'm understanding it. We shall see!

Jim


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