For the follow up to my first book, Sanctus, I started with the idea for a plot that centred on the origins of writing. I wondered what burning knowledge it was that had driven mankind to invent this sublime, abstraction of symbols that could somehow capture that most ephemeral of substances – ideas. So I got hold of some books on the subject and read up on the earliest known scripts. The first thing I discovered was how many of these languages remain un-deciphered; all that effort to preserve some precious ancient knowledge and, we went and forgot it anyway. But reading can only take you so far. Nothing really compares to standing in front of an actual object that has long survived the human hand and mind that created it. So I went to the British Museum – and that’s when things got really interesting.