Tag Archives: JFK

Fifty is a Wonderful State of Mind

Fifty.

Wow.

Fifty.

I remember thinking how long that was when I set my novel fifty years after Kennedy was assassinated.

Fifty years on and what became of the little girl who had been watching the motorcade with her mother, waiting on the sidewalk of Dealey Plaza? Rushed forward as the hush descended. Mother’s hand tight in hers… then.

A gunshot shatters sound.

Then another… and is that another? Too close together to tell? And from what direction?

Panic.

A president slumps forward, his wife clambers over the back of the car and we later learn she was trying to what? Scoop up his already broken brain? A man on the grassy knoll captures the footage in a film that will be scrutinised millions of times, maybe more than any other film made on a home movie camera. It will make him famous, infamous, he would never have known it as he drank his morning tea, or was it coffee, did anyone ask? He could never have known.

Life ends although death will not officially be declared until the president reaches Dallas Memorial Hospital forty minutes after the gunshots.

A shocked world will see it huddled around black and white TV sets. Often other people’s.

A mother stands on the grassy knoll but looks the other way to everyone else, now but she didn’t at first because, and some might judge her for this, but in that moment when the gunshots rang out, she watched what everyone else did and she dropped her daughter’s hand. She let the fingers slip from hers, and that was her mistake, right there. But she can be forgiven for that, can’t she? She made one small error. One thing. And now she stands and looks the other way and thinks how she only dropped her hand for a second, took her eye off the ball for a moment. And now she is gone. So where is she?

Where?

Gone.

She can’t be.

Eleanor Boone is gone?

Eleanor Boone is gone.

Only what she will later discover is she has gone and will never be found.

Or will she?

Fifty years later will she finally be found? And what did she see? What did she see that day?

While No One Was Watching was published five years ago, fifty years after a real moment, fictionalised and I want to see it on film, that moment, the fifty years on moment when one thing, one single thing changed everything because a mother let go of her child’s hand, and that has made all the difference. And it happened while no one was watching.

I did promise an extract this morning but I hope this will suffice instead to tease you to buy the book if you haven’t already and just maybe for a filmmaker to think: I could make this movie. And my dream might one day come true. My dream made a while ago, confirmed on the day I see my half-century turn.

Something quite unique and special happened yesterday. It happened as I researched for my new short story, and it has a special meaning given how the cards align. By that I mean I am fifty (dear God I am fifty today) and next week I marry for the first time, a second chance at love because sometimes sad things happen. And in four months a new baby comes into our family, my brother and his wife wait. Let me share a piece of the magic with you. When I went to bed the night before last I asked my late grandad (he died many years ago) to show me what part of the story from his past, from his experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war in Changi I ought to use in a new story. Not memoir, a story. It’s a story I have been on the verge of writing for a long time. And yesterday about this time he showed me his story. I knew it, but he showed me through some serendipitous clicks on the computer that his story is better than any I could make up. His story or a fictionalised version of it is what I MUST share with the world… finally. Once again real moments inspire the best stories, don’t they?

At that moment I knew what he wanted. It came from a line written on the back of an old photograph: the title of a story written for a newspaper in 1945… a lot more than fifty years ago. I found it, oddly, for sale on eBay. A photograph of my grandparents, later I was told my nan was pregnant with my mum when it was taken. It feels as if the things my grandad would never talk of, he is now finding me, the storyteller of the family, to tell it, or to tell not so much of the atrocities and horror but a love story and somehow I think it means that is what kept him going for the twelve years they were apart. It’s moments like these that make me know there is more than the life we know. There is more behind the ideas and the stories if we choose to tune into them. There are two timelines, now and then… and they are barely whispers apart.

There is more.

This is my path.

This is confirmation it is absolutely the right one.

This is what happens when I focus completely on my writing again.

I will leave you with these thoughts and tell you more about what happened yesterday in another post, another time, how my grandad is now with me, closer than ever as the cards align.

Sometimes magical things happen while no one is watching.

No post tomorrow as being whisked away for a night away later in a lovely old-fashioned guesthouse in Southend with my very soon to be husband as a special birthday treat… and I will celebrate fifty years.

Fifty.

Wow.

Fifty.

I remember thinking how long that was when I set my novel fifty years after Kennedy was assassinated.

Now I think, fifty is no time at all.

 

Fifty is only a number.

Fifty is a wonderful state of mind.

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Friday Writing Prompt

Inspired by my talk last weekend, and thinking about the close interaction between fact and fiction, here’s a prompt for you.

Take a key moment in history; so something that ‘literally’ stopped the world, not just your world, so let’s say, as is the case in my novel, the death of a president, maybe 911, Diana’s death, Elvis… ? and then write a short piece of ‘alternative history’ as if it never happened. So you will need to use fictitious characters perhaps or make it a memoir piece where the event affected you, but now let us see what happened if something else happened instead… So, for example, JFK Airport used to be called Idlewild and, in fact, this is the name of Mark Lawson’s alternative history novel, if Kennedy had not died as he did and make him the icon he is, would the airport still be called that? In fact, that is the case in this novel; Kennedy is still alive years later. Perhaps juxtapose what might have happened with what did happen, so some of you might even want to write two versions…? I will leave that to you! Allow your imaginations to run wild… and not be idle! See what I did there 🙂 Groan!

Happy Writing!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Being YOU!

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Kennedy’s Legacy

The idea that Kennedy’s assassination was part of a conspiracy and not the official line that said he was killed by a lone assassin, is no new idea. The first book that explored this idea was Thomas Buchanan’s Who Killed Kennedy? that was published in 1964.

There are now well over 2000 books on the subject and a 2003 GALLUP survey indicated that 75% of Americans believed in a conspiracy, and that there was a government cover-up.

The Warren Commission is now recognised has having serious flaws. In fact the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that “there was a high probability that 2 gunmen fired at the President.” And that there were 4 shots, not 3 — the one that missed, the ‘magic’ bullet that passed through the President into Governor Conally, the fatal shot and one from the grassy knoll.

Modern theories implicate involvement of the CIA, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, the US Military, Lyndon B Johnson, Fidel Castro, the FBI, J.Edgar Hoover, the KGB and more.

In fact with regards to Kennedy’s assassination, it is regarded as the mother of all conspiracies.

I can not tell you how many books I read while researching for my novel, even though my novel is not a conspiracy novel per se and nor does it attempt to shed specific light on any one theory, I needed to know and the more I knew the more I needed to know. It is a minefield out there and each book, even with completely contrasting views was equally convincing, which makes it hard to know who to believe.

Many, including JFK the Oliver Stone movie (1991) implies a combination of many of these forces at work. While the findings of The Warren Commission published in 1964 alleged a lone assassin, the interviews were conducted by the CIA and the FBI so there might be a good reason for the shortcomings of this report.

And I am inclined to think there is a combination of many that brought about this assassination.

Because I was not alive at the time, I don’t have a firm grasp on what it was like at the time in terms of political unrest and how people really felt about Kennedy.

My reading suggests he was a popular and charismatic President, but scratching below the surface I see the issues he faced, the Bay of Pigs being cited often as a motive for his murder, with a lot of anti-Castro exiles wanting to return to the US and the failure of the Bay of Pigs being a reason for unrest. Others cite his wanting to have little involvement in Vietnam — a decision I believe was reversed with various policy overturns after his death.

Lee Harvey Oswald really fascinates me and the more I read, while he ties into and has associations with many of the groups alleged to have been involved in the conspiracy, the more I am convinced that he could not have acted alone.

But here lies the issues with theories and books reportedly non-fiction, people think that means fact and they think that means truth — when what they are reading and what I found convincing — is OPINION and that is a very different thing to FACT.

What I do know is his assassination is a moment in history that shook the world and still does.

What would the world have been like if he hadn’t been assassinated? Now that’s the stuff of novels and there are a few that back this alternative history angle, I read Idlewild recently by Mark Lawson. And Stephen King’s excellent 11/22/63 also addresses this question by setting up the premise that our time-travelling protagonist could kill Oswald — but he needs to be sure first he acted alone and this is the main foundation of his novel.

With the limited knowledge of history I confess to have, or perhaps I should say political history I can not endeavour to answer the question of what would have happened in terms of US and world politics if Kennedy had not been assassinated that’s more for those who know and it has been done well.

The only question I ask in relation to this in my novel is: would Eleanor Boone still have disappeared if Kennedy had not been assassinated? But you’ll need to read the novel to be able to answer that.

No matter who you are, I think even fifty years on we still wonder about that assassination. The very fact it was captured on a home movie and that can be viewed in full colour digital enhancement on YouTube, makes it a very public murder. Shroud that in mystery and conspiracy and the huge number of sealed records and you have yourself one helluva conspiracy.

And one I know will never go away.

And it surely inspired my novel — only the real question now is what happened to Eleanor Boone?

I am having my first Author Event as a published novelist tonight. It is an odd thing. I am in essence a shy person and it’s only through validation of my writing that I have gradually gained the confidence to stand in front of people to run workshops and give readings and I am now comfortable with that.

But being in my own spotlight (this is someone who would never stand on a stage and act or sing (a good thing, trust me!) — I am the one who writes the stuff and creates the drama, and doesn’t perform it — so suddenly taking centre-stage is something I will have to learn to deal with. But actually I am pretty excited, even if the event is all about me (oh God how egotistical does that sound — well you know what I mean.) Actually it’s all about my characters — this is their moment to take the spotlight. I can handle it better if I think of it that way.

Tonight is a pre-launch to get ready for the BIG day tomorrow.

I have an early nail appointment and things so no blog tomorrow but you can bet there will be a report and photos of the events here next week.

See you on the other side.

Kennedy Poster

Pre-order my novel here HERE

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