It's that time of year again. Time to plant creative seeds and let them germinate over December, ready to be either potted on or weeded out over the new year period. I've started a new book every New Year for seven years, and it's a lovely thing to be doing. Of course, I have to write book 2 between January and June, so the book won't get that much time or attention, but in my experience the 'also ran' second book is more fun to write and probably more imaginative than the 'proper' book. Secrets was an 'also ran' fun book, written alongside another, darker, better written book. I wonder what would have happened if I'd put that one into the competition. Nothing, probably, it lacked the imaginative freedom of Secrets.
Where do ideas come from? It's a question writers get asked all the time, and I'm not sure I have an answer. There's a psychological theory or two, but in my heart I'm not convinced by them. Characters seem to appear, with all their foibles and their own voice, out of the blue. One such character was Felix, one of the protagonists in Secrets. He appeared in a short story seven years ago, uninvited, and frankly, stalled the story dead. But I couldn't take him out. One of my brothers says I fancy Felix, my own character. Maybe I do, maybe he's a mixture of men I have liked and favourite film portrayals and a bit of me for leaven. But he appeared as he is now, I didn't consciously create or adjust him. He had a failing marriage, a cat, all his personality traits.
Another character appeared a few years ago, and now her story is nagging to be told. I'm interested in how people overcome overwhelming disasters. We see people in the news, wrestling with being involved in terrible accidents or injuries, and they fascinate me and inspire me. But when they go home, away from the cameras, and shut the door...what is life like on the inside? I think that is the seed of a new story, the what if? I'm letting them float up, and seeing which ones have got enough potential to be a novel.