Thursday, October 11, 2012

How I Came to Write This Story: Nigel Bird




                                                      The Rhythm Of Life -BOTH BARRELS


The story behind the story

Shotgun Honey has a reputation that’s grown quickly in a fairly short space of time. 
I have no doubt that this is due to the editorial prowess of the team involved, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what their secret might be.
The stories are always well-written and engaging as you might hope, but for me there is an invisible thread that stitches work together as part of the Shotgun Honey banner.  It has to do with the emotional power that’s generated and the subtle ways it is expressed in such a short space – remember that the stories weigh in at around the 600 word mark.
When I was invited to submit to the anthology Both Barrels I was excited, honoured and more than a little intimidated. 
For me I felt the need to pull something out of the bag that told a story but carried that emotional engagement.  Whether I achieved it or not isn’t for me to say, though the feeling I was hoping to project was one I felt during its writing.
The story combines 2 strands of ideas.
The first relates to a hitch-hiking holiday I had in northern France when I was 19.  My friend, Gareth, and I had a wonderful time where the richness of experience has never really left me.  Among the things that have stuck around is a love for fountains.  It seemed that in every town there was a fountain that would become our focal point for lunching or reading or passing the evenings.  The sound of the water and the position in the towns made them the perfect places to sit. The French have so many more fountains than we do in Britain and I’ve celebrated that every time I’ve been over there since.  A fountain, then, was something I wanted to bring in to this work.
Now, fountains being one of my favourite things doesn’t suggest much in the way of crime fiction.  If anything my feelings would be more in line with the writing of a romantic piece – in some ways it is a romance story  – but something more was needed.
Enter strand 2.
There’s a thing that some children do that I find fascinating.  They spend an age painting a wonderful picture or creating a lovely drawing or writing a story or building with blocks and then they destroy it.  Completely trash the thing – throw the paint, scribble, rub out – just get rid of it as if it didn’t exist.
I suppose we call it self-destruction when we apply this to adults, something I know quite a lot about.
And there was the story.  Along comes a young man to a fountain and find a beautiful girl reading a book.  The weather’s great and there’s a Technicolor wash over it all.  It’s almost perfect, yet all the young man can do is admire the scene and then scribble all over the thing until none of it is visible any more.
That’s the story.  They’re the things behind it.  That’s what I was thinking.  If you read it, I’d love to know whether it works for you or not.
I’m proud to be part of this one and I wish the Shotgun Honey team all the best with their future efforts.

4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Nigel.

Nigel - OK, I am fascinated by the fact that you were inspired by a fountain. I really think that's interesting! And Shotgun Honey does indeed have a well-deserved reputation.

Chris Rhatigan said...

You have the mind of an artist. Not many people think like that.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been hearing about Shotgun honey. definitely need to check it out.

Kieran Shea said...

Nigel:

I've always felt he was operating on a unique plane.