Friday, 30 May 2014

The car wash that could take a soul

In last week's post I talked about the day I found the perfect scene for a death. I was in the planning stage for my second book 'Star Keeper.' A few weeks later I found another, not so aesthetically pleasing but nevertheless unusual.

It was a Sunday morning. The previous night's rain had annoyingly deposited sand all over my car and I knew it would be one hell of a job to clean it off. The car wash was quiet and as I sat in the car, watching huge blue rollers spin in front of me, I had that Sunday feeling, the one when you have a whole luxurious day of doing nothing in particular in front of you.

I continued to gaze through the windscreen as the car slowly jostled along automated track but as blue rollers lowered and touched the glass a random thought struck me and then tormented me for the rest of the day.

What if a driver went into a car wash alive and well but when his car emerged on the other side he was dead? What could have happened in the few minutes in between?
The car wash where I thought of a death for Star Keeper
Sometimes, it isn't necessary to answer every question but allow the reader to be drawn into the scene and then pose the riddle. Once again, I had been presented with an ideal death scene and all that remained was to find the victim which didn't take me long to do. My characters each have a profile and destiny.

Such moments of inspiration always take me by surprise and what I relished with extra gusto that particular day was the recognition that one doesn't have to bust a gut or have long think-tank sessions in order to come up with ideas for plots or scenes. It was whenever I was distracted or thinking of everyday mundane concerns that my best ideas came to me.

I used to carry a notebook around with me but now I use my iPhone notes and photo aps. Once I'm in a quiet place I can expand ideas and I have photos to remind me of the inspirational moment. Who knows? I may end up with a scrap book full of them and what an eclectic mix it would be!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A stunning place to die

In last week's post I described the moment I stumbled across Mephisto's grave in my local park. Later that day I had a death scene in mind as a focal point for my second book 'Star Keeper' (although at that stage it didn't yet have a title).

I needed somewhere for the scene to happen and I didn't have to wait long before I found it. A week later, sitting in the courtyard of Skipton Castle I suddenly visualized how the scene would pan out while sitting beneath a tree and looking up through dappled sunlight.

Conduit Court, Skipton Castle - inspiration for a death scene in Star Keeper
It was a glorious day and although I was reluctant to leave the castle I couldn't wait to jot down all the ideas that had come to me while there.
Skipton Castle
The sun was baking and my son desperate for a drink so before we left I took him to a small shop near the castle exit. While he was buying a drink I looked at a wooden bench outside at which a cardboard sign had been propped and it had the words: "grown in the grounds" roughly crayoned across it. Out of several pots I chose one that had a smaller sign describing it as an orange poppy and as it was only 75 pence I bought it as a memento of the day.

The poppy was planted in my garden 2 years ago and when it flowered I found it bore a beautiful almost carnation-like flower. Now, whenever it flowers, and it does profusely throughout late spring and summer, I think of Skipton Castle and its beautiful courtyard and I am instantly transported back there in my memory. Sometimes, one doesn't have to travel to wild and exotic places to find a beautiful moment.
My Skipton Castle orange poppies - a memory of an inspirational day


Friday, 16 May 2014

Stumbling across Mephisto's grave

I remember it quite clearly. I'd finished writing my first book and just had a strange experience which prompted an idea for my second. However, I needed something more - a direction for the story. I took a walk to clear my head.

Over the past 20 years plus, I must have passed through my local park countless times on my way to the library or using it as a pleasanter route to and from my home. That morning, I walked by something I'd never noticed before and it surprised me.

It was a small gravestone and someone had weeded around it and attempted to clean it up. I paused, stooped down to look, wondering what on earth a gravestone was doing in a park? The name 'Mephisto' gave me something to contemplate. He was as he was born 1891 and died 1893.

Mephisto's grave

Back home I did some research. Hare Hill House, a part of Hare Hill park, was once owned by the Newall family in the 1800's. Mephisto was a pet monkey and legend has it that the monkey escaped, climbed up to the roof and then fell to an untimely death. It was such an odd story and odd little grave that it stayed with me and it was later that evening that I decided I too would have a character whose devious actions would lead to a fatal fall from a roof.

And so, in 'Star Keeper', my second book, there is a character named Mephisto who is not all that he seems but he is not the one to fall. Now, every time I walk along the park path, I pause briefly to glance at the grave. I wonder how many other things I have walked by each day and not seen?  I wonder how many other ideas for story direction are out there?
Hare Hill House, where Mephisto fell from its roof