There are many things which trigger inspiration in me, observing other people, reading a news story, memories, places I’ve visited… and then there are the other things, which are almost like snapshots in an album. Sometimes two unrelated images merge and become something different.
My husband was in a band; it was called Celtic Shambles and was very popular. The name came from the type of music and the way they played it! One of the band was a very large gentleman, Mick, with very large hands; he played lutes, mandolins, and occasionally the guitar. I was fascinated by these huge hands playing the small instruments so skilfully and so delicately. Mick was an amazing musician but I always just watched his large fingers on the strings.
Much longer ago when I used to go to the infants school to pick up the children there was a teenage boy who would wait for his little brother or sister. He was quite a chunky boy but tall, with a very pale face which made his teenage spots stand out. He wore a black school uniform and he had very black hair gelled back.
These two images came together somehow and a character emerged, Rudi Makepeace in my novel ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’. I had begun to write the story of a woman, Rosa, who became well-known when she was involved in a bank raid. She was taken hostage and there was a dramatic stand-off and one of the robbers was shot dead. After that her ‘fame’ leads to an unwanted stalker which drives her almost mad. Her cousin, Tyche, resolves to find the stalker.
Tyche comes to the town on her mission and goes to meet Rosa’s husband. It seemed awkward for her just to meet him so I had him invite Tyche to dinner… and then I had to have other guests. Rudi was supposed to be just a guest at the meal, but somehow his powerful personality took over and he became a major character in the book!
This is how Tyche first meets him:
“Tyche, this is my good friend Brian Makepeace, we’ve been pals forever, same nursery, same school, same band, same Uni.”
Brian stood up to shake hands. He was a huge man with a round pale face, pocked and marked, scarred from teenage acne. He was dressed in black and standing seemed to dominate the room with his unsmiling presence.
“Hi Brian,” said Tyche pulling her hand from his enormous paw. He said nothing, his great wan face as blank and distant as the moon, his eyes small and expressionless.
Brian’s nick-name is Rudi and although he works in local government, music is his passion – and I used my memory of Mick playing in the band with his large hands when I described Rudi playing.
If you want to find out whether there was a stalker, whether Tyche found them, and what part Rudi plays in the story, here’s a link: