Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Authors: Where Do You Get YOUR Ideas?

I offer absolutely no apologies for featuring a writer on my Wednesday's Writer spot who has been here before.  She is my favourite modern writer and it's always a pleasure and an honour when she can fit me into her busy schedule.  She is the multi-talented Jenny Twist, author of the best novel I read in 2011, the wonderful Domingo's Angel.  Ever since reading that I've been following her work avidly. Her short stories have appeared in several excellent anthologies, so I was really thrilled when she released her first self-published stand-alone short story Away With the Fairies last week.  If you haven't read it yet, please trust me - you SHOULD!  It will be the very best 77p you've spent.  Away With the Fairies stirred up powerful childhood memories for me and I was fascinated to know what inspired Jenny to write it.  Here's her answer:

Where do you get YOUR ideas, Jenny?
I suppose all authors get asked this question from time to time and probably most of us don't have the faintest idea. My friend, Tara Fox Hall, dreams a lot of her stories and I think dreaming may come into the process for me, too. I have never written a story directly from a dream but I often wake up with an idea for a story fully-formed and with no idea of where it came from. I imagine all these ideas loafing about in my subconscious, cluttering up the place, and every so often something triggers them to come to the surface. Very often, after the idea has been triggered, maybe even after the story has been finished and written down, I can see where it came from – some half-forgotten memory or something in the news.

When Lynette asked me how I came to write Away With the Fairies I almost said I had no idea, but then I realised I did know where it came from. It's just I hadn't made the connection.

When I was a child I regularly would see a sequence of pictures play out upon the wall in front of me. It was as if a film had been projected on to it. The sequence was always the same. Every time I saw it I recognised it and knew what would happen next, although afterwards I could remember hardly any of it. I just knew it was moving pictures and somewhere in there was a gnome. I called it 'my pattern' and I loved it. It was a secret pleasure.

I don't think anyone else knew about this. I certainly never told anybody and my mother had very little time for me because my younger brother was very ill with epilepsy – the fully-developed form with convulsive fits and blackouts known as grand mal (great evil). It was only years later, long after I had outgrown 'my pattern', that I saw a programme on the subject and realised that what I had experienced was petit mal (little evil), a much milder form of the same condition.

This is what Lucy does in Away With the Fairies. She stares at the wall and looks into another world. Her parents think that she is suffering from petit mal. I don't think she is, though. I think something completely different is happening.

I also realised that I had drawn on my knowledge of English folklore, particularly the rather obscure tale of the Green Children, who had appeared in an English village one day, hand in hand. They had green skin and would only eat beans. The boy soon died, but his sister learnt to eat a variety of food, her skin lost its green colour and she eventually learnt to speak English. She told her new family that she and her brother had walked into a cave one day and came out into a different world.

If you want to know how these two strands wove themselves into a story, you will have to read the book.

More About Jenny Twist
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike,the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family. 
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat
Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in November 2011,  Jamey and the Alien was published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011, Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011 and  Away With the Fairies, her first self-published story, in September 2012.

Forthcoming Releases to Watch out for:
Her new anthology, with Tara Fox Hall, Bedtime Shadows, a collection of spooky, speculative and romance stories, will be published 24th September 2012.
Her new novel, All in the Mind, about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger, will be published 24th October 2012.  Oh and believe me, that's another one you won't want to miss!


Jenny Twist said...

Thank you. Lynette. It is SUCH a pleasure to visit your blog. And thank you for all the kind things you said about my writing. You've made me very happy!

ManicScribbler said...

Jenny, it is as always, a very real pleasure to have you as a guest. You're welcome any time.

I really loved Away With the Fairies and I hope EVERYONE will buy it to experience the same enjoyment I did. Very best of luck with it.


Eva87 said...

You know I loved this story, but I had never heard about petit mal before. This is such a fantastic twist on that condition.

Definitely worth a read and it's only 77p!!!

Lynette, you're not wrong about All in the Mind either, that is going to be a BIG hit!

Three cheers for Jenny Twist!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I completely agree about Domingo's Angel - it was one of my favourite books too! Love the background to Away with the Fairies, Jenny - I've already downloaded it and shall now move it up the TBR list! Love that cover.

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you so much, Eva. You are so nice to know!
And thanks Rosemary. I do hope you enjoy it. The cover is amazing, isn't it. I'm so pleased with it. My fried Caroline painted the Green Man and Su Halfwerk did the cover art. Such talented ladies!

Tara Fox Hall said...

Always a pleasure to find out a bit more about you, Mrs. Twist :) Thank you for the prop < curtsy >. I'm very glad your petite mal seizures were not serious, and that there was an enjoyable aspect to them. You have many, many more stories to write! :)

ManicScribbler said...

Eva, Thank you - I'm glad we agree. I think the 24th of October will be a very happy day for many!

ManicScribbler said...

Rosemary - thanks for dropping by and please return and tell us what you think about Away With the Fairies - it's my guess you'll love it.

ManicScribbler said...

Thanks for popping back, Jenny. I hope you found the cream buns I left by the coffee pot.
I think Caroline and Su did you proud and I hope everyone finds the cover of Away With the Fairies and the mysterious green man as enchanting as I did.

ManicScribbler said...

Totally agree, Tara - Jenny has an infinite well of stories and I can't wait to read them all.
Thanks for dropping by from over the pond - always thrilled to welcome you here.

Jenny Twist said...

Tara. Thanks for your kind words. Don't worry, Petit Mal is nothing. Nearly everyone grows out of it. I did. Love Jenny

Gilli Allan said...

I was ‘away with the fairies’ for much of my childhood. I never had such thrilling hallucinations but I did used to talk to them in their houses. I believed they lived in pansies as pansies have faces and would nod when I asked questions. I’d barely grown out of it (or believing in Santa Claus) by the time I went to secondary school. Interestingly, my mother developed the ‘petit mal’ form of epilepsy in her late middle-age but it didn’t afflict any of us children. I’m looking forward to reading this story, Jenny.

ManicScribbler said...

That's a lovely idea, Gilli - fairy pansies. You're right of course, they do have faces and I'm half-inclined to bet they knew exactly what you said to them. Childhood - magical.
That's why I love Jenny's story so much because she captures the real essence of that - and a bit more besides.

Jenny Twist said...

Love your fairy pansies, Gilli. My husband is much ruder. He says they look like cats' bottoms

Jenny Twist said...

Thanks, Gilli. I love your fairy pansies too. Is there a story there, I wonder?

Catherine said...

Thanks for the interesting insight into your inspiration for stories, Jenny, I loved Away With the Fairies. It's such a clever and intriguing tale. Domingo's Angel kept me enthralled. I truly didn't want it to end, however, the end was so satisfying I put the story down with a sigh of satisfaction!

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you, Catherine. You are not only a lovely person, but you take the time to leave a comment.

ManicScribbler said...

Catherine, it seems like we share the same tastes. Reading your comment reminds me how entranced I was by Domingo's Angel. I think I feel a re-read coming on!

Post a Comment