Saturday, July 8, 2017

Books Can Grow .... from Little Acorns by June Gadsby

“From Little Acorns…”

…books can grow:  In my case, this is a big subject, so I can only begin to address it here. I can tell you right from the start, I have never had a problem finding inspiration or storylines – just the time to write them up. If I live to be a hundred I will never run out of ideas. The trouble is, hardly a day goes by without something pops into my head that makes me get that little ripple of excitement, seeing the potential of a good story. Sometimes, some of the better ideas get lost among the wealth of scribbled notes and typed anecdotes and – yes – even a long list of possible titles that can be used in the future. As I think I have stated in the past, I have this little writery quirk in that I can’t write a story unless I first have a title.

For The Rose Carousel, this pretty little musical carousel – a free gift from a catalogue - was the inspiration that led to a story about a girl who ran a toy shop that ‘sold’ Christmas all year round. She got involved in a kidnapping of a child and the American security man who turned out to be something far from the man she thought he was.

Valley of Dreams [to be published shortly] was inspired by seeing a young, Basque shepherd here in our French Pyreneen mountains. By the time I had eaten my picnic lunch I had the storyline in my head. A young divorcee and her son moving on from a disastrous marriage and reluctantly losing her heart to the Frenchman who becomes like a second father to the boy. But he’s a man with a dark and mysterious past and there are people in the tiny, isolated village who would rather not have the English woman in their midst.

To The Ends of the Earth. How could I not be inspired by the breath-taking scenery and the Patagonian history of the early pioneers. I spent time in this amazing part of the world – Argentina and Chile – with its glaciers and icebergs, Welsh tearooms that hadn’t changed in a hundred or more years and the air full of passion and music that you couldn’t help dancing to. And the town of Ushuaia, very last town at the edge of the world.
How I loved writing this book, thinking all the time how my grandfather, had he still been alive, would have enjoyed a story that was as close to his beloved Westerns as I could get.

The Glory Girls. Quite by chance, I discovered that the centenary of the FANYs [First Aid Nursing Yeomanry] was coming up. A light-bulb went off in my head as I wondered if I could write a hundred-year saga with the FANYs in the background. I put the idea to my agent and he loved it. He told me to put aside the book I was part-way writing, but said that I had only three months to produce the saga. My heart sank. I knew that there had to be a tremendous amount of research before I could even start writing the story. However, it was my idea and I was all fired up by it, and I didn’t want to let my agent down because he was so enthusiastic. We argued over it a bit. I wanted an epilogue. He wanted a prologue. In the end, I did both, working every hour God sent me for exactly three months, and we were both happy with the result – and so was the publisher. “My goodness,” my agent, Bob Tanner, said. “I asked you for a saga and you’ve given me a wartime thriller!” Those words made me jump for joy. All my life I had yearned to write thrillers and I’d done it at last. [And my favourite character in the book is a secondary one – feisty little Effie – whose personality I stole from one of my lovely maiden aunts. I hope she has forgiven me for the liberties I took.]

When Tomorrow Comes. Listening to the radio one Sunday morning while I did the ironing, Vera Lynn, the English singer best known for entertaining the troups during the second world war, gave me the title for my second full-length saga, the story of a family fighting their own battles, led by the lovable Hildie who could make you laugh through your tears as she did her best to assure everybody that all will be well when tomorrow comes. The song that inspired me was: “There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover…tomorrow just you wait and see.”

And, of course, my latest book, a traditional saga – Rosa – trauma, tragedy, laughter and romance, two wars and a heroine who refuses to give up and achieves a lot more than she has ever dreamed about. It took the simple, fading memory of a mansion house from my childhood that became part of my own dream of building a life from nothing to what I’ve got now.

So, as you see, I don’t have to search for inspiration – it’s all there in my own life – what you see above and much, much more. One day I might give in to the requests from those who know me well to put everything into an autobiography – but as they also say: “Nobody would believe it!”