Tag Archives: Where were you?

When ideas fall from the sky … new perspectives

Last night I chaired the local writing group and while we didn’t have time for a writing exercise I did take along a book of interesting images that could be torn out and used as writing prompts. While I work from home as a writer and have to confess that I don’t find I need such prompts to get writing, it is a good device to use when you are short of inspiration. So it will be interesting to see what work is produced.

I have talked before about where ideas comes from and I think often they just come, sometimes while we’re sleeping, sometimes while we’re washing up, sometimes when we’re doing nothing at all. But I think we all know when we’ve grasped a good one. I guess the idea that started While No One Was Watching was like that. And I knew it had something. And what’s more it needed more development than just existing as a short story.

I am loving the idea of alternative versions of history and recently a book was recommended that was written for the 30th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination by Mark Lawson called Idlewild. This is the original name for JFK Airport that was renamed after this death. Lawson creates a reality in which Kennedy survived his assassination attempt and woke up after life-saving surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital. A year before that Marilyn Monroe survived a suicide attempt. I am only at the beginning but I love the use of alternative scenarios. I touch upon this in my own novel at the end in a what if moment. — what if there hadn’t been a gunshot would Eleanor Boone have still disappeared? Yes I know it’s nothing new and there have been many books and films that have used this premise but I still find is fascinating. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 uses a similar idea that if he can go back in time and stop Oswald what will the world be like? But the premise here is he had to be sure Oswald was a lone assassin or killing him would not alter history. I loved this book as you know. What still stays is this idea of moments in time when if one thing was different – what would’ve happened? This novel is a time-travel one and what stays with me is this notion that the past is obdurate, an expression used repeatedly; i.e. it tries to stop itself being changed — but it can be changed. Loved it! Recommended! Alternative histories are indeed an interesting premise for an essay I think, and indeed a novel. And that’s the kind of idea that really sparks my writing and my desire because it makes you think — right? And it makes me think — why didn’t I come up with that?

How do we hit on these BIG ideas but have something no one else has done?

Well if we knew that …

But I do love the way ideas come.

As I was sitting in the writing group last night another idea formed. This one much simpler. Starting soon I would like to set up a place, be it a Facebook page or a space on my website where people can write their own messages about Kennedy, where they were when they heard. It’s such an iconic moment in history a lot of people remember. So I plan to set something up. Of course I wasn’t born, but look how much that moment has still influenced me!

OOh there is a Kennedy Where Were You? Page already. I just joined it! Even though I wasn’t born! But I might slip in a post about my novel or write as my character who was there? LINK

What do you think?

Have a great day all!


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On This Day …

Some of you might remember that not long after I wrote the original short story While No One Was Watching, the idea of something happening at the same time as a world stopping event became the focus of the 2011 Bridge House Short Story competition.

We were looking for stories that used the real event (and it did have to be something that stopped the world literally) as more than a back-drop — it had to be in some way integral to the plot of the story — while at the same time telling a whole other story.

I have always been fascinated by this idea of news eclipsing what’s going on in our own lives and with the royal birth dominating the headlines I was watching a couple on Daybreak this morning whose baby was born one minute before the new king and I started to think again about this idea.

When we put out the call for submissions for the World Stopping Events competition we had a huge amount of interest and I received emails from a number of writing groups and universities as a lot of people liked this idea. Well, more than that it seemed to inspire many writers. Often when we had calls for themed collections, the themes were quite general — horror, ghost, children’s etc — but the fact  that the submissions were a while before they started to come in, suggests this was different and people wrote new stories.

We had some wonderful subs and it was really exciting looking at how people used the idea and we had stories about Kennedy, Elvis, 911, Diana, Lennon’s death,  the Boxing Day Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina … etc.

I actually still use this device in a lot of my writing. It’s another way of showing and not telling because I like to use news headlines and events as a way of keeping time, rather than say it outright. What this also does is add an element of authenticity and one that readers will connect to because often they will remember where they were at the time.

I loved the stories and it was a tough call making the selection and choosing an overall winner.

The stories were published in a collection called On This Day and while like many of the Bridge House collections they never sell in great numbers I am very proud of this collection that I edited alongside Gill James.

It was also inspired me to make a book trailer, something I had only done once before. I ought to make one for the novel — that should be fun.

So I thought, given the historic days we’re living in, I would talk about this book.

That’s the thing about books — they can be written in one century, one moment in time and read in another and they still capture something of the time they were written in and the time they write about.

So in  case you never saw it here is that book trailer with music composed by another talented friend I went to school with!

And also here’s a link to the book and if you don’t have a copy please do get one.

And you never know — it might also inspire you.

 Quick update, my proofread MS has gone back to the publisher and I have spent the past couple of days having a writing week. I am still working on the rework of the novel but am also writing a new short story. I also received a publishing contract yesterday for my short story Lest We Forget, that will appear in a new Wildlife Anthology for the Plight of the Rhino (Save the Rhino) that will be published by Springbok Publications at the end of this year. More on that soon. I have also been asked to edit some of the stories and am really excited about the project!

So … put the sound up, put it on big screen and watch this …


Enjoy whatever you’re doing — on this day.

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