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Here's Jonathan's account of how it all started . . .

"I got the idea for The Amulet of Samarkand in October 2001, during a 20-minute walk home in the rain. As I trudged along, carrying heavy shopping and with the rain dripping down my neck, I took my mind off things by thinking about fantasy books. And it suddenly occurred to me that many fantasies feature heroic wizards battling against evil. I wondered whether I could turn this upside-down and instead make the human magicians into the villains.

But if I did that, who would the hero be? Well, a lot of fantasies feature wicked demons and monsters, who battle the good-guy wizards. Perhaps I could turn this round too. I could make a demon the hero… He has been enslaved by one of the magicians, and it is his voice that narrates the story.

By now I no longer noticed the rain. I decided that my book would be set in a recognisable modern London ruled by the magicians. The Prime Minister and his government would be using the magic of enslaved demons to retain power, and keep ordinary people under their thumb.

These notes show part of the chapter plan for Amulet. Each box in the middle represents a chapter or two. The green numbers in circles are chapter numbers. The red numbers (without circles) mean that a chapter has already been written and indicate its number of pages.

  While I was still writing, my UK publishers were working on the book cover. They wanted a description of the Amulet, so I drew them this.
In the end, it wasn’t needed, since the Amulet wasn’t shown very big
on the cover, but it was nice to get the image clear in my own mind.

I was so excited by these ideas that as soon as I got home from my walk, I threw my shopping in a corner, sat down at my desk and scribbled everything down before I forgot it. I decided that my book would feature a confrontation between my demon and his master, a young, cold-hearted kid-magician.

A few weeks later I decided to write a bit and see how it went. Within minutes, Bartimaeus’s voice burst out on the page. In two days I wrote the first 4 chapters of Amulet, almost exactly as they are now. A lot of the key ideas (the pentacles, the summonings, the planes, Bart’s transformations, the footnotes) and central characters (Bart, Nat, Faquarl, Jabor, Lovelace) were invented in these first two days.

I soon realised the story was too big to squeeze into one book, so I began planning out the structure of a trilogy. By the summer of 2002, I had the basic plan for all three books worked out. I finished Amulet in early 2003, and it was published that autumn, two years after that original idea."

Amulet Offcuts

As I write I regularly create passages that don’t work. Sometimes this is because the plot changes, sometimes because they’re just too long or slack.

Click below for two rejected bits from The Amulet of Samarkand.

Shrivelling Fire  The Shrivelling Fire

The Spy  The Spy