I came home from the Lake District refreshed and have managed to write two short stories (you can read my post The Perfect Writing Break here) which is just as well as at the weekend, my husband and I are sneaking off to Hayling Island for our annual modern jive weekend... yippee!
Today, I saw that I had two stories in The People's Friend Fiction Special. Both of these stories have stories attached to them (if you see what I mean) and today I though I'd tell you the inspiration behind one of them, The Two Brothers, as it is particularly dear to my heart.
As most of you will know, the last year has been spent writing my novel. It's been a steep learning curve, getting enough done to submit it to the RNA New Writers' Scheme, finishing it, writing a synopsis, sending out submissions in order to find an agent for it and, most recently, doing considerable edits and writing a blurb for the agent who believed in me and my writing.
My novel, at present called The Marbled Book, is set mostly on the Greek island of Mystos. Now Mystos doesn't actually exist, but it is based on the islands of Skopelos and its smaller sister Alonissos (as well as parts of other islands I've visited over the years). When I wrote the book, I'd never been to either of these islands but pictures I'd seen of them during my research looked perfect.
By September, when the novel was almost finished, my husband and I decided to visit the islands in order for me to complete the research. I would be able to immerse myself in the sights, sounds and smells of the two islands (you can read my blog post on it here).
Whilst on a day trip to Alonissos, I discovered there were two smaller islands off the harbour town of Patitiri. They were called The Two Brothers. All through the holiday, the question floated around in my head - why were they called the two brothers and could I make them into a story when I got home?
I didn't want the story to be contemporary (it would have encroached on my novel) so I decided to set it just after the second world war. A guidebook I'd bought had mentioned the failure of the grape harvests around that time and I decided to work my story around this. Of course, as the title suggests, the story is about two brothers. It's a love story but also one of sibling rivalry.
But what of the two small islands of the same name which I mentioned earlier? Well, legend has it that there were once two giants called Otus and Efialtes. When they were children they liked to play at skimming stones into the sea. From these pebbles grew the Sporades islands. I knew it would be a perfect story to weave into my own fiction.
The special will be out for the next three weeks if you want to find out more about the story.