Funny as it sounds, I actually came up with the title first. I was talking with Kim, my wife, about the success of The Da Vinci Code, and noted how book titles with a famous name and a hint of mystery seemed to do well. After a few minutes of trial and error, and a few raised eyebrows from Kim, I settled on Einstein's Trunk. I then sat down in front of my laptop and began typing. And as I typed, ideas came, and so did inspiration that led me down various avenues of research. The book expanded from there.
For example, I researched Einstein's life and found many details that fit nicely into a thriller, such as his 1939 letter to Roosevelt encouraging the Manhattan project. And then his subsequent guilt over having suggested it. Also, the story and mystery surrounding his illegitimate daughter eventually worked its way into the character of my Russian agent Svetlana Soboleva and her attempts at Einstein's deathbed to pry away his secrets.
Before I came up with the title, though, I had been inspired to write a thriller in the first place based on having read and loved Barry Eisler's John Rain series. I believe I read every book in the series twice. Mr. Eisler's books taught me that thrillers didn't have to be one dimensional. And I also appreciated that he was very upfront about the enormous amount of research he did to create his books. Strangely, I found this very encouraging. It suggested that even someone like myself who had never worked for the CIA (I believe Mr. Eisler had, by the way) could still have hopes of writing an accurate and realistic thriller if he were willing to do the research and hard work required.
In my next post, I will talk about how I came up with the main characters in Einstein's Trunk.