The ideas that developed into the novel Neanderthal.

The ideas that developed into the novel Neanderthal.

Sometimes ideas or things that I have picked up from an article, a TV programme or even a conversation, stick in the mind and fester. Some of these ideas simply do not go away. They seem to feed off each other. When ideas begin to interact I find myself with a novel.

Neanderthal came out of a number of interacting ideas, thoughts and facts.

A number of films and documentaries have dealt with the results of two civilisations impacting upon each other. When one of those civilisations is technologically further advanced the results can be psychologically devastating. This has occurred many times with the expansions of the European countries around the world in the days of colonisation and Empires. When the Spanish and Portuguese invaded South America or the British and French invaded North America, the colonisation of Africa, Australia and New Zealand. For a largely hunter/gatherer society to be confronted with people possessing huge ships, lethal weapons and strange customs must have been daunting and demoralising.

That would probably be the case if we encounter a technologically superior alien race.

That type of interaction intrigued me. Arthur C Clarke once said something to the effect that any new technology would be indistinguishable from magic.

I read an article about Neanderthal man and how they all seemed to die out at the same time across the world. They were humans possessing larger brains than ours. They were tool uses, artists and musicians. They might well have been more intelligent. They might have been kinder, gentler and less aggressive.

There were many theories as to why they disappeared. They might have been absorbed into Homo sapiens (we Europeans all carry some Neanderthal genes). They might not have been as adaptable to the climate change that occurred at that time. We might have wiped them out. But I was not satisfied with the explanation.

Our dramatic population increase has meant that we are encroaching more and more into wilderness areas, chopping down forests, destroying habitat and killing wildlife. Very few areas are totally inaccessible now. Logging companies are putting in roads and the hunters follow.

I greatly love nature. The destruction of nature that I have witnessed in my own lifetime distresses me greatly.

Brazil’s President Bolsonaro has been accelerating the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and allowing more logging and mining. He had a plan to put in a major highway right through the Amazon.

All these things came together into a story. I populated it with characters. It became a novel.

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