I was once again looking for a book idea, and I remembered Holmes, but I specifically remembered that there was this World's Fair thing in the background. I thought, 'I'll read about the fair.' I had nothing better to do. I'd dismissed about a dozen ideas, and I was getting sort of antsy. I started reading, and that's where I got hooked.
What drove me to do 'Dead Wake' was that after doing the most preliminary of reading and scoping out what kinds of materials might be available in archives and so forth, I realized that this book - the research, the writing - would present me with a rare opportunity to explore to a full extent the potential for suspense in a nonfiction work.
I was a promiscuous reader. I loved Nancy Drew books and Tom Swift - never the Hardy Boys - but I also read Dumas, Dickens, Poe, Conan Doyle, and Cornelius Ryan's war books. As to favorite character: I'm torn between Nancy, on whom I had an unseemly crush, and Edmond Dantes, the Count of Monte Cristo.
Hitler was such an anomalous character - he was so over-the-top chaotic in his approach to statesmanship, his manner and in the violence which overwhelmed the country initially. I think diplomats around the world... felt like something like that simply would not be tolerated by the people of Germany.
For 'Thunderstruck', I discarded about a dozen ideas. And then one afternoon, I was thinking about wireless. I don't know why. I guess because it's become so ubiquitous. I was thinking that maybe there's something I could do about the origin of wireless, so I did what any self-respecting person does these days: I Googled 'wireless.'