This is the final day of the Sparkfest tour so I thought I’d just sneak in a short(er) answer to another of the questions which has been motivating fellow scribblers around the world this week: which author set off the spark of inspiration for your current work in progress?
There was no particular author who inspired my completed manuscript, rather two very different people in the news. One was a lady who spoke evocatively about why we should forgive the London Bombers of 7/7 even though she was the mother of one of their victims. I was in awe of her amazing strength of character, thought how much more powerful this emotion was than the, nonetheless, entirely understandable anger of other relatives and friends. She was crying, I was crying and I thought that if we could just harness what this lady had and spread it around, the world might just rub along a little bit better.
The second person was the driver who allegedly fell asleep at the wheel causing the Selby Rail Crash. I remember seeing his face splashed across all the newspapers and thinking how complex it was. His actions were avoidable and people died as a result. And yet I knew his life would be affected for ever, that this wasn’t the face of a cold-blooded killer we were seeing, rather someone who made a stupid mistake. I wasn’t sure that this man really needed our vitriol; he’d never forgive himself anyway. Some of the people who were chastising him, had perhaps made stupid mistakes themselves but hadn’t been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you know my novel is called Glass Houses, you’ll see where I went with this…!
My current effort is a re-write of a novel which I first drafted thirteen years ago. I vividly remember scribbling down the idea on the back of three airline serviettes (I had to beg for the second two) on the flight back from my honeymoon when everybody, absolutely everybody else, was asleep. It’s funny to think that in those days I didn’t carry a pad of paper and pen with me everywhere I went! The idea came from an article in The Guardian on ‘Paupers’ Graves’. I can’t remember anything about the piece itself but I can absolutely picture it, full page as it was with its dishevelled oval shaped tombstone falling away from the tufts of grass at its base and do recall the reaction that inspired the book: how could anybody die without a single person to say farewell? What could be so bad as to lose somebody every friend and relative they ever had? That tombstone isn’t in the book but the concept certainly is.
So there you have it; I have the press to thank for hours and hours and hours spent alone in my study, just me and my keyboard. How nice to be able to thank The Press for a change J