I usually feel the need to hold up ‘Disclaimer’ signs when people ask about my stories. Stuff like:
- It’s not about you.
- The main character isn’t me.
- I’ve never even been to Germany.
- It’s really not about you!
- I don’t swear, Mum – my characters do.
- No, I am not a secret psychopath. When Judd starts swinging into those elves with a pick-axe, don’t think that I advocate violence.
I’ve considered the advantages of anonymity. Using another name might be liberating. But let’s face it: writing involves spending more time talking to characters than actual people, so when anyone reads my stories I want to own them. I am not just a recluse shut away in her bedroom, no, I am a creator, a writer. Look on my works and marvel. 😛
My friends tag themselves in photos – well, I can’t resist tagging words I arrange with my by-line.
I do draw on experiences, but my stories are by no means accurate representations of my life or the people I know. For me, writing is more like truth ten times removed. Splinters of genuine emotion ignite with sparks of inspiration from books, songs, movies, artworks, nature, or a niggling curiosity or fear. A story might be a response to a thought-experiment that I’m trying to make more tangible. Or an exercise in empathy. Trying to understand different characters and their motivations can be a lot of fun. Sometimes I might not even know where my material’s coming from. Everything is thrown into a blender and what emerges can be hard to explain. After all, a book looks nothing like the tree you cut down to make the paper.
I know that every writer works differently, but I do subscribe to most of Stephen King’s advice in his book On Writing. I believe that working for the muse makes him/her appear more often. Simply put: I try to write even when I don’t know where a story’s going, or I feel stuck. I don’t have to have all the answers; I’ll learn, and feel inspired, as I go.
Anyway, on this page I’ve tried to trace the inspiration for some of my stories. If you’re interested, please read on. 🙂
This one’s easy. I was inspired, in part, by ‘Photograph’ – a beautiful song written by Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid, and produced by Jeff Bhasker and Emile Haynie. To me, ‘Photograph’ is about magic moments shared between people whose love helps to shape each other. The final verse is particularly significant to my story, as I drew on the imagery to inform the The Amber Light’s climax.
I wanted to capture a sweet, intimate moment between two characters; a moment where everything changes. And yet I also wanted to soak the moment in familiarity. I needed to create the sense that the characters had known and loved each other for a long time, but their deeper feelings had not been acknowledged before the narrative’s opening. The unnamed girl in The Amber Light has guts – I’ll give her that. Her first words the reader is privy to (which are also part of the story’s opening line) are ‘I love you’. This declaration changes the nature of her relationship with the narrator.
The Amber Light was also influenced by Dawson’s Creek. (I was watching a lot of it at the time.) I’m grateful to Kevin Williamson for creating such a charming show about growing up, and the interplay between friendship and love.
The idea was to make drowning beautiful. Could the same thing that endangered a person captivate him/her? That’s really what I was asking myself while writing this piece of flash fiction. I tried to use dream-like imagery and give the reader scope to interpret.