Stories: from germ to germination.



Me-Time Cover_LR

became available as a paperback today. It is listed on Amazon but can be ordered direct here .  ——-> BUY BOOK

I’m going to be interviewed on a publisher’s blog soon. For the advance information I was asked how I researched for this book.

Me-Time Tales is a collection of ironic short stories with a dark edge. Each one has a character self-absorbed in some way. I didn’t research them, I met them, listened and later someone like them popped into my head as I wrote.  The book isn’t one of my novels where I had to check facts as, for instance, for ‘A Relative Invasion’, which is set in the forties. For that, I had to spend a long time reading old newspapers, looking at WW2 archives, government and military information, domestic and blitz accounts and visit The Imperial War Museum.  The actual war references are minimal, but it’s still important to get them right.

In Me-Time Tales, each story had a very different starting point. The only research I did was to observe and record. There’s nowt so funny as fowk. I believe that’s a Yorkshire saying? (I should rush and research that). Observations: a woman moaning about her boyfriend’s lackadaisical responses; another fussing about her health; a further complaining about the eating habits of her (now nervous and inhibited) child. At some point, I sat down and wrote, not necessarily with those people in mind but perhaps a sentence they’d uttered, or a sentence I was writing made me summon up a character similar to them. I don’t know why I wrote any of the stories on any of the occasions, except that I had fun.

Of course, it’s not enough to create a character. They must have a voice and something in their life must have meaning or impact upon the reader. As Robert McKee says in ‘Story’ “…the life story of each and every character offers encyclopaedic opportunities.”

I wanted one younger woman to struggle with a moral dilemma and I didn’t want her to be any kind of weak pushover. I invented her from scratch.  An author’s characters live and breathe as result of his/her interactions with the world over the past – however many years lived. I really don’t know where all my characters, their sayings, peculiarites and weaknesses come from except that they are present in everyday life somewhere, and I’ve come across them some time even if I don’t remember that now. It all goes into the unconscious into a morass of mini experiences and observations.

I wrote the Me-Time Tales at different times in different places. It was only four years ago that, scanning through my documents I saw that I had several short stories I could group together. I had one hundred copies of the collection printed to trial them. If there had been no interest, that would have been that. But they were well received.

Last summer, I tweaked, rewrote, proof-read the stories before they hit the print rollers. A few (I won’t say which) I wrote especially to make the collection up to a reasonable size. Then I used an editor, tweaked and proof-read again. That doesn’t sound like a fun time. It wasn’t. However, I found fun. I was advised to start a blog. I decided to let Me-Time be the owner and to let the characters do the talking. They took over and were often quite hard on me.  The blog is truly a dialectic, a characters’ dialectic. If you haven’t visited it, it represents the second face of my ‘characterfulwriter’ logo. You will find the fun blog at I found an image for each character to summon up either their personality or their story.  Here are two of them:

JESS: you rate my tattoo?  What I rate is trending on Twitter.
DARYL: Who will change old lamps for new?

Doing the Me-time blog has made me smile. My characters have been bitchy, challenging and feisty. Strangely, they have attracted visitors from everywhere except Latin America and Japan.

I should run a poll, perhaps, to see if my 3,500 visitors want the blog to continue now that the book is published. On this more serious site, I will write more about the progress of publishing this set of short stories if you comment by scrolling right down to the bottom.


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