Monday, 2 May 2011

The Other Room - Author's Notes Part 3

... Continued From Previous Post

The Final Wish

This is an odd one. I wrote this at university - one winter I got sick with some kind of flu, and barely left my room for days. I took the kind of flu medicine that knocks you out for a bit rather than cures you, and then when awake drank either coffee or whisky depending on whether it looked light or dark outside my window.

Obviously whatever assignment or other writing I had on at that point was halted, but when I recovered this was scrawled on my notepad. I vaguely remember writing it. but those memories are tinted by the fever-like quality of my illness.

All I've ever done to alter it is give it a title; the whole story is mysterious to me and reading it back I get no sense of having written it myself. Despite that, I've always found it the one story of mine I can't form any objective opinion on. I'd be genuinely interested in hearing what readers think of it.

I suppose a Freudian reading through this would have a field day - I'd like to point out that my relationships with my parents and brother are completely normal...

A Writer's Words

Yes, yes, I know the title is bad - awful, pretentious, and trite. But I've never been able to think of a better one. (I often struggle with titles - I can get all the way to the end of a third draft of a story and still have no idea what the damn thing should be called.)

Like The Other Room the inspiration for this one came from another minor incident which I then took to its extreme. Like the main character I was on a train when I became concerned it was the wrong one, and there was a note with back-to-front writing stuck to the window. From that brief spasm of anxiety (and it's always slightly nerve-wracking, using public transport for long journeys) came this story.

Red Route

These Lincolnshire roads, with signs showing the number of fatalities, are real. I guess this complements the previous story, but this time it's about personal not public transport. Do any of us stop to think as we get in the car that it's most likely the riskiest thing we'll do all day?

When The Walls Bend

I've a tendency to over-think when I'm writing, to believe that a story needs some kind of intellectual underpinning before I can begin it. To compensate, I often force myself to write something based on a simple, archetypal idea. Here I just wanted to write a haunted house story.

I had to have some way in though, and the idea for this story came when I wondered why so many haunted houses in fiction were big, sprawling mansions owned by screwy upper-class people. Do the rich really have a monopoly on the afterlife as well? I wanted my haunted house to be small, cramped, and squalid. I also love ghosts stories which are as much about the person being haunted as the ghost.

This was another story for which I struggled finding a title; I was playing Radiohead's Hail To The Thief album constantly at the time, and eventually I 'borrowed' the title from a lyric from a track called The Gloaming.

I've always liked the last line of this story, and it seemed an appropriate way to end the collection as a whole.

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