David Pearce writes about how he found the inspiration for two of his characters.
Have you ever wondered how authors invent the characters that you read about in your favourite books? I hadn’t really thought about it until I read the first few chapters of Sophia Bennett’s soon to be published novel ‘The Look’. One of the characters is a University lecturer who has lost his job and is trying to become a writer even though he isn’t really any good. I thought this sounded like me, so I asked Sophia about this character on Twitter and she said that the character was based on herself!
Of course, any writer will use their own family, friends and themselves as the basis for characters in the books they write. (That’s why you often find similar characters in every book by your favourite authors.) I did the same for my novel ‘The Girl on the Train’ for most of the characters. However, the two central characters of Holly and Bobby didn’t spring from my imagination, and they weren’t they based on anyone I knew. They quite literally appeared in front of me!
I wrote my first, unpublished, novel while I was travelling up to London by train to teach in a Language school. One morning I found myself sitting across from two girls in very distinctive blue blazers. They immediately interested me because the younger girl was small and blonde and probably in Year 8, while the older girl was a brunette probably in Year 10. I found out that they weren’t sisters, just two girls going to the same school. However, they were quite clearly very close despite the difference in age and attitude. I asked myself the obvious question to a writer. Why? I picked up my pen and wrote a quick character sketch of each girl and within fifteen minutes I had the basic story of my novel. Over the next few months I saw them quite often on the train and I started to change their characters as I found out more about them. That happens a lot when you’re a writer. Some of the comments and incidents that appear in my novel are lifted straight from those journeys. The following school year I saw the older girl travelling to school on her own, looking subdued and obviously missing the fun she used to have with her friend, and the end of my novel pretty much wrote itself.
Whilst the two girls have probably now left school, and are in work or university, they will always be the two main characters from my first novel.
You can read more about David’s book, The Girl on the Train, here
By Jean Cross
I watched them hop all o’er the top
as twig bent under claw.
It looked just like an argument.
Perhaps about some straw.
Then I noticed something,
and my apprehension grew.
A feline form was climbing.
The crows all noticed too.
They flew in all directions
and left my tree quite bare.
Save for the cat still closing
on the crows no longer there.
I’d seen this creature skulking ’round
the farm just down the road.
It was a wild and untamed thing
and of no fixed abode.
But I’d never seen it up so close,
though perhaps it had seen me.
This ginger soul who stalked the night
Then it stopped and looked around
and tried to turn half way
just as the wind began to stir
and the branch began to sway.
That was when I went outside
to get a better look.
Our eyes met through the branches
and we both knew it was stuck.
What to do? I could not leave.
Nor could I get near.
The branching was too thin up there,
the creature full of fear.
No use in trying to coax this one.
No words would get it down.
I’d have to get a ladder
to lead it to the ground.
Of course I could not look at it
as it made a tentive move.
I had to supplicate myself
and stare down at my shoes.
But I felt it getting closer
and I wished I’d worn a hat.
For in a moment from my head
sprang a wild old ginger cat.
Then it was gone and I replaced
the ladder in the shed
and went inside to attend
the holes upon head.
Later as I ate my lunch
in silent reverie
I pondered on the episode
of the cat up in my tree.
And here’s the thing that bothered me
the thing I still don’t know.
What made that scarred old hunter think
that it could catch a crow?
Perhaps in some back garden,
or by some untidy bin
the bird might let it’s guard down
and the patient cat would win.
But at the top of a tall tree
the outcome was assured.
Danger for the sneaking cat
and victory for the bird.
But still the ginger creature
crawled out on a limb.
Driven by its nature
to a situation grim.
And here’s the lesson that I learned
from that old cat in my tree
let others do what they might do
and I’ll be true to me.
A big ‘thank you’ to Jean for providing this lovely poem. You can see Jean’s book, The Boots of Saint Felicity, here
Everyone likes being a little bit scared. Even if it’s just when your big brother or sister jumps out at you from behind a curtain and says boo. First of all we jump, then we scream, and then we laugh with relief when we realise it isn’t a bogeyman, right?
Why we scream
There isn’t really a bogeyman. There are bogeymen—lots of them. And they seem to appear everywhere—bogle in Gaelic, bwgan in Welsh, boggel-mann in German. And when your stinky brother jumps out pretending to be him, it’s okay because it teaches us how to scream (to draw the attention of others) and run (to get away), even though there isn’t any real danger. And for someone like me who writes scary stories, the bogeyman really is my best pal.
Because that’s what being scared is all about—rehearsal for when it really matters. Or, should I say, mattered. After all, when our ancestors lived in caves, there was a strong chance that the big old shadow lurking outside the cave entrance might actually be a big old sabre-tooth tiger and then you really had to make a loud noise and run like the wind—or risk being eaten.
Getting your own back
So here is a little tip to get your own back .
The next time that disgusterous brother or sister of yours does give you a fright, just smile at them, shake their hand and say, “Thanks very much for saving me from that horrible monster.”
It’s likely they’ll give you a slightly weird look and probably say, “What horrible monster, pants face,”
And then you can smile a wider smile and whisper, “The one that’s right behind YOU!” before you turn and run away like the clappers.
I bet you they overtake you after ten yards, looking white as a sheet.
Now who’s scared?
Have you been scared, lately? What do you do when you’re frightened? Got a tip for beating the bogeyman? Then why not let us know? You can write to us using the form below – we’d love to hear from you.
A big ‘thank you’ to R A Jones for providing this post. You can read more of his scary stories here.
Bakelyt | StockFreeImages.com
10 Horrible Things You Did Not Do This Year:
Proof that You’ve Been Good
By De Kenyon
Every holiday season, some adult is going to ask you, “Have you been good?” in that special tone of voice that makes you wonder if every adult is an idiot…or just this one. These are the same people who a) want to spank you for your birthday, or b) want to know what you’re going to be when you grow up, like ten years from now.
So we at Kindle for Kids have prepared this list of quality answers to “Have you been good this year?” for your convenience in answering relatives, your parents’ so-called friends, and other annoying adults who try to pinch your cheek, pat your head, or exclaim, “My! How big you’ve grown!”
Question: “Is Santa going bring something good for you this year?”
- “I was going to spread peanut butter all over my teacher’s chair on Friday, but I didn’t, so that means I must have been pretty good this year.”
- “Mom said we should learn more about other cultures. I learned that in Brazil, queen ants are considered a delicious snack. Did you want a chocolate ball? It’s a delicious snack…”
- “I didn’t call mom/dad at work pretending to be a kidnapper asking for my ransom this year, even though I didn’t get what I wanted for my birthday. I thought that was very good of me, don’t you?”
- “I haven’t glued anyone’s homework to their face at school this year, not even the bullies! Isn’t that great?”
- “I didn’t make any mouse cubes to drop into people’s sodas this year, so I think that’s a yes.”
- “I didn’t tie a string over the top of the stairs for the third year in a row! Once again, nobody tripped and broke their leg. Thank you, thank you!”
- “None of my little brother/sister’s stuffed animals were killed in mysterious accidents this year…yet. MUAHAHAHAHA!”
- “This year, I didn’t suggest a contest to see how many peanuts the Kindergarteners could put up their noses during lunch. My teacher was very proud of my improvement.”
- “No bugs, snakes, rotten fruits or vegetables, boogers, mud pies, dog poo, mouse traps, or firecrackers have been left under the blankets of any guests this year. Although I can’t say anything about spiders.”
- “At first I thought, ‘I’m not getting anything good this year, so I might as well roll a giant snowball onto the house.’ But then I heard what you were getting me, so I changed my mind. But I can always give it a good push if it turns out my sources were wrong.”
Feel free to be creative! Just make sure that the adult is not drinking anything while you answer, or you may get eggnog sprayed all over your face. As always, be ready to duck and run from any adults who can’t appreciate a holiday smartypants.
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Many thanks to De (and her daughter) for supplying this post. You can find De’s book, Tales Told Under The Covers: Zombie Girl Invasion & Other Stories here.
Best Ever Present
The best Christmas present I ever got was a set of encyclopedias (I’d wanted a Beatles record, but I got that for my birthday eight days before Christmas Day). There were eight volumes in the set of thick, heavy books, all filled with glossy pages full of pictures and illustrations. It was magical. In those days, long before computers and the internet, these books were my search engine, my own Wikipedia. I trawled through them for hours, lying on the floor of my bedroom, as they took me to far off lands, showed me clever inventions, introduced me to famous people and fabulous creatures – did you know an octopus has two hearts? – and led me into the depths of space. There were fold-out pages with maps, pictures of different dinosaurs, costumes and fashions through the ages, and illustrated diagrams of the Solar System and star charts. I used them so much, for pleasure as much as for homework, that eventually they became tatty and dog-eared. It didn’t matter – to me they were old friends, somewhere to escape to when mum started yelling, or my brother was being a pain or I’d just had an argument with my best friend and she wasn’t talking to me any more.
Gifts To Last
I know I’ll never get another Christmas present like it, but the knowledge I gained from its bright, shiny pages will last me for a lifetime. I still miss it now I’m older, somehow searching on Google isn’t the same as flicking through the pages of a proper book, and often regret that my parents got rid of it when I married and moved away.
Whatever your gifts this Christmas, I hope you receive at least one book. With any luck it will become as welcome a companion to you as that encyclopedia was to me and fill your mind with wonder. Have a wonderful Christmas time!
We are delighted to include Debi Faulkner, Simon Haynes and Walter Eckland to our growing list of authors on Kindle for Kids.
Debi has also written Murphy’s Law, a middle grade book for 8-10 year olds (mostly girls), and LilyPad Princess a young reader aimed at 7-9 year olds (mostly girls). Click here to see Debi’s book on Kindle for Kids
Simon is the author of the acclaimed Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series of books including The Secret Signal. In his spare time he also writes computer software.
Walter has written two books about Corie. Besides the on listed here, you might also like Corie Castle Builder.
We now have fourteen authors at Kindle for Kids and more coming in the near future, so don’t forget to come back and visit us again soon.