Tag Archives: While No One Was Watching Novel

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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Four Years On…

A lot has happened in the last four years since my debut novel was published. No more novels are out yet and that is a shame, but it is not that novels have not been written, just that things have slowed down since I was signed by my agent. I am hoping that 2018 is the best year ever by seeing progress in getting that second novel out there. So watch this space.

Well, today sees the 54th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination: the event that inspired, first the short story and then the novel While No One Was Watching. So it seems right to slip in another quick blog post for the rare few that follow this blog that did not buy the book, with a blatant plug! I launched it on this day at the same place I will be launching the Canvey Writers book this Friday. November 22nd, 2013 was, in fact, a Friday and we showed the famous news clip announcing Kennedy’s death at almost the exact moment it broke some 50 years before!

I did see that the book Kindle version is only 99p today so do download it if you haven’t yet and the paperback is also on offer too!!!

So here it is… !!!

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Voice again!

In the absence of requests, I decided to share this with you even though it means listening to my far from perfect African-American accent. You see the thing is, having created that voice for Lydia, who I talked about yesterday, it means to do justice to readings, how could I talk in my estuary English London accent?

So I had to take Lydia on the road to book launches and events including the Hollywood event where there were African-Americans in the audience (yikes) and try to let her voice come through.

Now recently, my hugely talented friend who wrote the song for the book trailer, recorded me reading the whole of Chapter 16… and I hate to hear my voice, but it is now out there in what is known as the SoundCloud along with the song.

So, here is my link. This is not really an editing tip, but if you are shy about acting (which I am) and you write a first-person narrative in an accent, just remember that one day you may have to read that way! 😉

That is all, not sure what I will be blogging about next week, whatever comes to me I guess or send requests for tips! Hey I could do a vlog one of these days… although not sure you want to see me waffling on, and waffling on I am prone to… never?!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Weekend!!!

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Tapping into the Universal: Child Missing

I watched the new BBC drama last night Missing, anyone see it? A child goes missing while people are distracted, in this case watching the football, and he is still missing 8 years on. Good premise, she says with a smirk, I might know a novel that uses that device. What? Not read my novel yet? But, and here’s my point, won’t be the first, won’t be the last.

I really enjoyed this and look forward to next week: good writing, good acting and I am not a huge fan of the crime series I see on the TV, although the Beeb often get it right. But the point that I am making is there are only so many themes can be explored in our literature and in our TV shows. We talk in industry about high concept, something I have talked about here before and this is one of those concepts — something universal, it has the intrigue that will appeal to the masses. Oddly this idea of missing, also used a lot in stories, seems to be a theme I have explored in different guises in at least three novels and for sure in a way in short stories although often missing in these contexts might mean something more metaphorical.

In While No One Was Watching clearly the theme is that of a child went missing, at the same time President Kennedy was assassinated, and is never found — or is she? So very much this idea of the horrors of a child missing, every parents’ nightmare, is explored. The theme being what happens when you turn your back for a second. Also explored in the current scenes with the classroom shooting in the novel. So all big themes but universal, right?

In I Am Wolf Amy is missing. But she’s a reporter, not a child and she is missing in the wilds of Alaska, possibly misadventure or maybe it’s something more. But while this drives the actions of her ex-lover who leaves his life in New York behind to come to Alaska to look for her, the premise and the theme is very different. This novel is about identity, and the feral child and Amy’s obsession with wolves a huge part of it. But I hope it also has something that has universal connection — but in a different way. Who has not wondered about walking out of their life?

Isle of Pelicans returns to a missing child, but handled in a totally different way to Eleanor Boone.  Eight-year-old Tommy is gone, his mother dead, a country singer whose body is found in Golden Gate Park. But where is her son? It’s a hight profile case, one suspect, but he’s an old man and he’s dying. Enter our unwitting, ex-con Frank, affectionately known (to me anyway) as the reluctant clairvoyant  who knows about the kid long before he goes missing. This one is pacey, contemporary and has a ticking clock, where is the kid? But with no real leads, only Frank and his college side-kick, and a bad case of cross wires, will he be found?

So you see how this theme of missing is used in my writing but in very different ways, I hope anyway.

I loved Gone Girl, yet to see the movie though.

These themes of lost or missing are huge and think how many times you have seen them used. But like so many other themes we return to, and this notion there are only seven basic plots — it doesn’t matter. Do it well, own it, make it unique and you have something.

And right now I have to now return to the exciting climactic scenes in Isle of Pelicans to see if they find Tommy …

Have a great day! Don’t get wet! Unless you want to!

And good luck to my old writing group in Bangor who celebrate with a showcase of readings tonight — so if you’re in the area, do go along! Wish I could be there!

Showcase Poster BCWG 2014

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It’s here … Cover Reveal While No One Was Watching

One month away from the official launch event on October 25th ( just a couple of days shy of the official launch date on November 1st) I am thrilled to be able to reveal the cover of the first edition (50th Anniversary) cover of my up and coming debut!

I have talked here before the need to get the cover right and there have been many discussions about this one. I might have some news about a second cover, but that’s still in discussion.

While it’s a popular saying — don’t judge a book by its cover — I think we do and if the cover catches your attention you have picked the book up, turned it over and read the blurb. And hopefully you’re heading for the till.

This cover is bold and it makes the statement it needs to.

So without further ado — cue drum roll…

Here it is …

 

Friday, November 22nd, 1963, Dallas, Texas, 12.30pm. The US President, John F Kennedy, is assassinated as his motorcade hits town, watched by crowds of spectators and the world’s media. Watching too from the grassy knoll nearby is a young mother who, in the confusion, lets go of her daughter’s hand. When she turns around the little girl has vanished.

Fifty years later, when everyone remembers what they were doing at that moment in history, she is still missing. Who will remember her?

Local hack Gary Blanchet, inspired by the mother’s story, joins forces with former police psychic Lydia Collins to seek answers. Risking ridicule for their controversial theories and with a classroom shooting close to home to deal with, they re-examine the evidence from that day, study footage and look at the official report for details of witnesses in the JFK case. But this time they’re not looking for a man in a crowd with a gun; they are looking for little Eleanor Boone.

Gone, while no one was watching? Maybe someone was.

 

Available from Parthian Books, official release date November 1st

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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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