Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
The idea for lost trademark came from a throwaway comment by V.S. Ramachandran in Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind. Ramachandran famously discovered an area of the brain called the God Module, which when stimulated under the right circumstances produces a numinous or religious experience. He was working with epileptics at the time, and he observed how a healthy portion of them experienced moments of spiritual acuity during or just after seizures. The experience was so convincing that many of them changed their entire lives afterward.
As a literature dork, I immediately thought of Dostoevsky. He was a known epileptic who was both a radical socialist and devote Christian, two systems of thought that don't necessarily jive. Why was he like this? It seems a large part of his faith was predicated on an intense religious experience he had just after a seizure. This would become the blueprint for a similar experience by Prince Myshkin in The Idiot.
When Ramachandran zapped a person's God Module, nothing would happen....unless a symbol of the person's belief system was present. So a Christian needed a cross or say a portrait of Mary to fixate on. If the wrong icon was present, say a Buddha statue for a Muslim, nothing would happen. The subject had to believe. After discussing this in the book, Ramachandran makes a joke about what could happen if he stimulated the God Module of an atheist. It's a joke he never answers. He just leaves hanging there for us to have a good chuckle. Which I did. Then I began to wonder, what could trigger an atheist's God Module? Could anything? Was there something that could trigger all our God Modules?
This was the birth of lost trademark. It started with me picking up Ramachandran's joke and running wild with it.