A St Valentine’s Day treat…

In a few days I will be sharing my new short story book with you. I spent most of the summer writing stories. My imagination ran riot… It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have peace and quiet!

Some of you will have already read The Eight of Swords and The Putsi so you will know something of my writing style. This new book is very different but I hope you will find it amusing and a little light relief in these troubled times.

I won’t say too much about it here because I want the launch on St Valentine’s Day to be a surprise. I can’t wait for you to see the cover and hear me read the first story in the book, live on Facebook. I’m not used to presenting in public but I think it will be fun and I hope you will join me. More details of the launch are at the end of this post.

This is a book of firsts for me: It’s the first time I’ve created a cover illustration. It’s the first time I’ve created videos to spread the word. It’s the first time I will go ‘live’ on Facebook. It’s the first time there is a paperback version available as well as an ebook and within the next month I will narrate an audiobook, all of which will be available via smile.Amazon.co.uk. Please use the smile link as it gives you the opportunity to donate to charity when you make a purchase.

My chosen organisation for the new book is The Samaritans, so I hope you will support them. There will also be a PDF version of the first story available when you subscribe to my blog and donate to a GoFundMe page for sufferers of Long COVID.

The professional advice is that you should never design your own cover for your book. I’ve always been interested in graphics and design and I had a strong idea in my mind what the cover should be so I decided to go with my instinct this time. I will be interested to see what you think…

I’ve had tremendous support in the making of this book. Family and friends have been incredibly encouraging. My mother was shocked by some of the more adult references but it didn’t stop her reading it avidly cover to cover! Mum is my harshest critic and although she pulled the odd face and had a little moan about some of the language, it also made her laugh. She could hardly be offended when she has watched Fleabag and Killing Eve throughout and roared with laughter at some of the most outrageous moments.

All I can do now, is sit back and hope you like it. If you do, please tell your friends, write reviews and keep in touch.

Join me live on Facebook PetraKiddWrites at 9pm on Sunday 14th February. Grab a glass of wine or a drink of your choice, sit back and enjoy!

Character Creation

Every writer has a different method to creating their characters. I’ve read quite a bit on the subject. There are writing courses galore, software you can get to help you plan your protagonists, internet advice abounds.

You will see in novels a disclaimer that says, ‘no characters in this book were based on living people,’ or something along those lines.

Of course you can’t take someone you know and implant all their characteristics into one of your fictional characters because quite frankly, that character wouldn’t be fictional now would it? That much is obvious. And the last thing you want is a lawsuit.

All I can tell you is how my characters come about.

I don’t sit down and create a character by listing how they look, their age, their weaknesses, their strengths, their political leanings, their occupation etc. I don’t do this because for me it simply doesn’t work. I have tried it but by the time I come to put them into a story I’ve lost interest in them because I know all about them. It is like creating a robot you are going to control to the nth degree and from what I’ve read you can’t even do that with a robot.

If you are a writer reading this and do use that method please don’t take offense. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use that method, I’m purely saying it doesn’t work for me.

The idea for The Eight of Swords came to me from a newspaper article. Once I read the article I couldn’t get it out of my head. It isn’t uncommon for fictional stories to be created from real life events because how else would stories be created? They say truth is stranger than fiction and this is very much the case. However, in this instance I created something strange, dramatic and exciting out of something pretty mundane. I know it wasn’t mundane to the real life lady but the outcome was pretty mundane to my mind.

The article described an immigration officer who came home to find her house overtaken by gypsies (well they may simply have been squatters I can’t remember now but I decided in my story they would be gypsies). In real life, the lady in question used the law to have them evicted within 24 hours or maybe even sooner. I’m a little hazy on the details because I didn’t keep the article and we are talking nearly ten years ago.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some time. Then out of the blue I was struck down with Pleurisy and became very ill. I didn’t realize it was Pleurisy, I just thought it was a bad cough. After a few weeks I went to see a doctor who suggested I buy myself some flowers and chocolate and to prepare myself to put up with it for six weeks. My protestations that I had a business to run fell on deaf ears. I ignored her advice and tried to carry on with my daily life but I became more and more poorly and suddenly experienced sharp pains in my ribs so sharp I could barely breathe. I went to see another doctor who told me I’d probably cracked a rib coughing. By the next day I knew I was in serious trouble, not all of my ribs could be broken surely?

By now I wasn’t really well enough to leave the house but another doctor told me to get in a taxi and visit a GP who specialized in respiratory matters. He at last told me I had Pleurisy. This time I went home to my bed and stayed there. I couldn’t just lie there and try to get better, my body might have been in trouble but my mind needed to be kept busy, so everyday I dragged myself into my office and I started to write about an immigration officer who came home to find her home taken over by Romanian gypsies.

I became Jayne Patchett, I could imagine how she might feel, a woman perhaps my own age, coming home and not being able to get through her own front door. Unlike the reality of the article I had read, Jayne had far more trouble dealing with the intriguing family who now inhabited her home. The characters all came to life vividly and the story progressed as if it were actually happening to me in real time. If I had been reading the story instead of writing it, I would not have been able to put it down and that’s what pretty much happened when writing it, I struggled to leave the keyboard until the fatigue of my illness forced me to.

The gypsies were addictive to me, I loved learning everything about them: their way of living, their attitude, their beliefs, and mystique. I researched how Romanian gypsies lived and Jayne became as intrigued by them as I was. In the story she gets drawn into their world and begins to question her own.

So my characters developed organically if you like. They came out of nowhere and took over my mind and my story. I found them leading the way. My decisions on what would happen next belonged entirely to them. I could never have planned the story from start to finish. I had no idea how it would end, what would happen to Jayne or any of them and exactly the same thing happened when I came to write The Putsi.

And again, with my new book of short stories, it is the characters who have dictated how the stories unfold. I don’t think I have ever started a story knowing where it will end up. Perhaps that’s why writing is as much a pleasure to me as reading is. I love to be surprised.

I know I am fortunate to have such a fertile imagination. It developed as a young child. My siblings were much older than me so for much of my childhood I entertained myself and lived in my own head and for a while alongside my imaginary friend Bert, who I suppose was the first character I ever made up.

That’s pretty much all I can tell you about how I develop my characters. The truth is they develop themselves. They are real to me even though they are entirely fictional.

Tomorrow I will tell you more about my imaginary friend Bert, who has a story all of his own.

Drop in at 7pm, see you here!

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

The Eight of Swords

My short stories The Eight of Swords and The Putsi have been reduced on Amazon to the new low price of £1.02 until the end of September.  It is a rare thing for me to reduce my prices or do free giveaways so go get ’em!

Both stories will get you gripped and are perfect for commuters or those on the go who want a compelling read that will last long enough to enjoy but doesn’t go on too long.

You can read an excerpt here: The Eight of Swords 

If you do read them, please leave a review – your thoughts are always of interest to me!

Please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/petrakiddwrites and on Twitter @PetraKidd and if you like what you read, please like and share so other folk can enjoy my stories too. Thank you!

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The Eight of Swords

A difficult day turns into a nightmare when Jayne Patchett returns home to find her house occupied by Romanian gypsies.

The irony of the situation isn’t lost on Jayne, who works in immigration. She is used to dealing with illegal immigrants at work but when she finds them sitting at her dining room table, drinking her wine, eating her food and wearing her clothes, her reaction surprises even herself.

(53 pages)

 

The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house. In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage. But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi. Now, one of them wants it back. Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust.

(42 pages)