The ‘Your Story’ Tag
Today I am doing a writers post, by completing the ‘Your Story’ Tag. This a tag – a set of questions – I have to answer about my writing and book(s).
I’m just going to jump in! If you have questions about my writing and/or books just leave me a comment below!
Tell us about one of your stories that you have written, are working on, or planning.
I have two books in the works right now, both of which are complete. One is a historical coming-of-age age story called My Mr Keats and it is currently crowdfunding on Unbound – the crowdfunding publisher behind The Good Immigrant, Bad Romance and Letters of Note. The other story is a work in progress that I am currently editing. It is a contemporary coming-of-age, with a strong feminist plot. Part literary, part new-adult fiction.
Is this part of a NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo event or a personal project?
I have never participated in NaNoWriMo as I never know when I want to write so I can’t plan for it. Sometimes I can write 10,000 words in a day and the next not write 2 words. It’s a hit and miss process, so everything I write is a personal project that I want to write at any given time.
Tell us about the characters in your story.
In My Mr Keats the protagonist is a girl called Kitty Pike. She’s a charming young girl who is unknowingly traumatised by the death of her mother. She is just looking for love in all sense of the word: platonic, family and romantic. She is a strong, independent young woman who knows her own mind and likes to have fun. But she feels everything very strongly, which can be confusing at times, particularly when she becomes a teenager.
In my other story – which I’ve yet to name – the main character is a girl called Katie Lowden. She is quiet, sarcastic, introverted and nervous, and has just started her first full-time job – in publishing *eye roll* – and people seem to like her. She is given her first project which is a long-awaited memoir of a second wave feminist, but she ends up having to meet the author, Emma, for one-to-one sessions which leads her down a rabbit hole of self-discovery.
What’s your favorite friendship in the story?
I love the friendship between two characters in My Mr Keats. Kitty, the protagonist, moves to the Lake District during the Second World War and lives with a very rich family. She befriends the chauffeur, who’s called Charlie. Charlie is about seven years older than Kitty and when she first arrives it is a very sibling-kind of relationship and it’s really sweet. He treats her like she wants to be treated i.e. like an adult, and she idolises him for his joy and cheekiness.
Over time as Kitty grows up the relationship changes in small ways; she can take the piss out of him and he knows how to make her happy but likewise piss her off as well. They end up knowing the ins and outs of each other’s souls and it gets complicated when Charlie questions his feelings for her when she is grown up, but it is a life-long bond. And it was beautiful to write.
What’s your favorite romantic relationship in your story?
I don’t really write romance into my stories. I’m quite cynical. So friendships that look like they could turn to romance don’t really show the actual romance and my other protagonists are quite wary of ‘romance’ in the cheesy sense.
In my current novel, which I’m editing, I’ve got a character called Helen who is desperate to get married and actually gets pregnant just to force the man into it. Another character is a Muslim and is feeling pressured to marry a man within her culture, another character is gay and is struggling to come out to his parents so he never commits to any relationship lest he has to explain himself. And the protagonist is afraid of romance. To me, that’s more realistic that lovey-dovey romances, so in a way that’s my favourite kind of romance to write but it’s not the typical kind.
What is the saddest scene in your story?
In My Mr Keats there is a character who is dying – it’s a historical coming-of-age story about a girl who befriends a dying boy in the attic – there is a moment when the young girl (Kitty) realises, for the first time, that her friend is never going to get better. It’s the moment when you lose hope but gain acceptance when someone has been ill for a long period of time.
It was hard to write because I’ve experienced that, and quite recently experienced it again, and I know the heartbreak that it brings but also the solace. That was the saddest scene to write.
What is your favorite scene in the story?
In my current novel, there is a scene where the protagonist goes as the ‘beard’ for her gay best friend to a wedding rehearsal dinner. She turns up for drunk – due to circumstances – and ends up fighting with the horrible bride-to-be in front of everyone at the dinner table. It’s hard to explain but when I read it back it’s hilarious and one of those scenes where I think ‘Yes, that’s good’, which is really heartening as a writer.
What is the opening scene in your story?
In My Mr Keats the scene opens with a prologue from the older protagonist who is telling her story. She sets the scene, explaining her childhood in a nutshell and then interrupts herself and is a bit of a bitch. You can read the whole first chapter on my Unbound page.
It’s strange to think, now, that at the age of ten my only possession was a book on archaic medical conditions. It was gifted to me by a bespectacled nurse at my father’s practice, after the bombing.
It didn’t matter to me that the book seemed to be entirely written in gibberish. After having very little, even before the bombing, I was glad to have something to call my own.
For fun I used to try and pronounce the words whilst reading by the fire in the waiting room. Occasionally my father would pass me and mutter the correct word under his breath, but he never made the effort of actually trying to teach me how to pronounce them.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
My Mr Keats was inspired by several things:
1. John Keats himself. The poet. I saw the movie Bright Star and read his poems and fell in love with them.
2. My experience as a child with a heavily disabled family member and how, as a child, I didn’t see them as an ‘ill person’ or treat them any differently than I did any other person and how that can help more than any medicine.
3. Sleeping at Last. A singer whose body of work really inspired me to write My Mr Keats.
I did a video on what inspired me to write My Mr Keats which you can watch on my YouTube channel.
What is the theme of your story?
In both stories the major theme is coming-of-age. Both protagonists go through experiences and periods of growing up, psychoanalysing their own lives and experiencing hard-hitting things that effect forever. In both cases, the endings are uplifting, no matter what happens and how much you struggle you will succeed. Self-discovery, self-belief and self-love.
What’s not working in your story that needs to be fixed?
In My Mr Keats, I need to change the protagonist’s occupation. I currently have her ending up as a writer – which I think as a ‘writer’ is a bit of cop-out – when naturally she became an artist as I was writing. I need to strengthen this change though.
In my current story, I need to add a subplot which acts as a cohesive second story so that it isn’t so heavy and such a two-dimensional plot. I’ve got the idea, I just need to fit it in and tie the strands together.
What do you absolutely love about your story?
In My Mr Keats, I absolutely adore the relationships between the characters. I think you experience every kind of relationship, barring homosexuality, unfortunately, my defence is that it is set in the 1940s and I couldn’t naturally fit it in. But the relationships discussed include platonic relationships, family relationships, romantic relationships, the bond between a mother and child and a friend being more than a friend, and many more… I love that I get to examine different kinds of relationships in my stories.
In my current work-in-progress I love the secondary plotline which I think is going to become the book’s prequel (Yes, a prequel!) It’s about second-wave feminism in London in the 1970s. There is a relationship between two women, one older and one younger, with religious, political and social aspects to it which are fascinating and still growing in my head, hence the possible prequel.
Do you plan on trying to publish this story or is it just for you to read?
My Mr Keats is currently crowdfunding at Unbound and if I reach 100% funded it will be published! In paperback and ebooks. With regards to my current project I do intend on sending it out, in search of an agent, but not for a while as I want to get it as near perfect as possible.
Thanks for taking the time to read my answers for the Your Story tag! I hope you enjoyed learning about my current writing projects and let me know if you’re writing anything yourself.
If you would like to learn more about my crowdfunding experience or my novel My Mr Keats you can click on the Unbound button in my header or follow the link above! Not to quote Tescos but: every little helps!