“Things become real when I write them down…” , I overheard a friend saying, but I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation to know what he was actually talking about. However this struck a real chord with me when I think about my books when I’m writing them… the characters, their situations, their locations become real to me… and I hope when people read my books they experience the same thing.
Reading for me is now pushed into somewhat of a corner as other things take precedence, but I vividly remember reading, particularly as child and becoming so lost in the book that when I looked up, roused perhaps by mum calling me to dinner, I hardly knew where I was or even who I was! The words and the book were real, my ordinary life was some dream… but the reality faded, the dream solidified and I was back at home with a book in my hands.
Some of my earlier stories which became books began when I was still working at my day job, with the children still at school and needing more of my time and attention (which was lovely of course!) I would have the germ of a story and daydream about it, mentally following the lives of the characters and what they did and what happened to them. These were just germs of ideas, but while I was driving, or doing the washing up or ironing, or settling down to sleep, I ‘lived’ stories in my head. Some of these eventually became untangled and reformed into my novels.
This was particularly true of ‘Loving Judah’; I was intrigued by a real news story of a highly respected and well-thought of man was revealed to be corrupt and perfidious, betraying his wife and his friends. In the true story the man remained a villain, in my story he was redeemed. In ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ I had been much taken with the idea of someone stalking a stalker – not necessarily a stalker who was pursuing them, but someone close to them. I ‘d followed these ideas in different ways for a long time before eventually ‘Rosa’ appeared. However one of the main characters had not even been considered – he suddenly appeared as I was writing, although I based his appearance as a teenager on a schoolboy I used to see picking up his younger siblings from school when my own children were small; I’d somehow kept his face in my mind for many years!
‘Things become real when I write about them…’ The most vivid of my characters to me – someone who has almost become real, and I do refer to him, mentioning what his opinion would be about something, or what he would door say in a particular situation quite frequently, is Thomas Radwinter. He was supposed only to be in one book, like every other character I’ve created, somehow he has bumbled into six, and I’m now contemplating the seventh!
Here’s a link to all my books:
My featured image is of a portrait of a family in Montacute House in Somerset… I have forgotten who they really were, but their faces intrigue me…