How I came to write ‘The Ring’
By Aislinn Batstone
‘The Ring,’ was a controlled experiment.
I started with a fantastic plot that I lifted in its entirety from a kids’ book by Jans Loof, ‘Who Stole the Apple’. This story follows a gentle soul tricked by a shopkeeper into buying a wax apple instead of a real one, but (as you may have guessed) this trickery comes back to bite the shopkeeper.
Like many favourite books, I was asked to read this out loud, over and over. For three or four weeks when he was about four years old, my son requested this story every single night. Eventually I could ‘read’ it without even looking at the pages. But I never tired of it, partly because of that fantastic plot. Reading aloud, I’d picture it as a single shining thread woven backwards and forwards into a perfect, complex circle, the overall geometry apparent even though it was nearly impossible to follow the strand as it twisted and turned.
I had to have that plot, had to see what kind of story I could make of it.
To separate my work from Loof’s I decided to make an adult story of it. And naturally, since the plot had deception at its heart, that story would involve a crime. I wanted to change every detail apart from the shining, twisting plot, and the story’s essential lightness of tone – the apple should not fall too far from the tree. (Ahem – sorry!)
Guy de Maupassant’s story ‘The Necklace’, somehow became another ingredient in the mix. A powerful, heartbreaking story about a woman who destroys herself because of her desire for, and naivety about, the trappings of wealth, ‘The Necklace’ couldn’t really be more different from Loof’s lighthearted romp.
I wanted a kind of cheerful riposte to that classic tale, to create someone who was a little like de Maupassant’s heroine Mathilde – naïve, and not from a wealthy family – but whose very naivety is his strength. Unlike Mathilde, Eliot doesn’t really care about wealth. He just wants to build a life with the woman he loves.
From the background of these two stories, and how I wanted to play around with their ideas, and this idea for a character, came the process of building the other characters and the incidents that would flesh out my tale. I enjoyed this process very much, and once this was all in place the writing itself went very smoothly. Even better, it was accepted on its first time out to market, by Darusha Wehm at Plan B Mystery Magazine.