Thursday, 2 April 2015

B for Background

My novel, When Skies Are Grey, started life as a short story. The short story described a bridge covered in snow and ice and a young woman crossing the bridge on a dark night.

The bridge I was describing actually existed and it was one I'd crossed hundreds of times as a child to get to and from school.

I used the area I grew up in to form the background of my short story and, as ideas for characters and plots grew, so did my short story, until it became a novel.

Apart from the large proportion of the story that is obviously made up (it is fiction after all), in many respects I was writing what I know. I used my background as the springboard for an idea as many writers do, although I did set the novel a few years earlier than when I was born.

I grew up in West London around the Notting Hill Gate/Portobello Road area. An area that has been used many times in films and books and is of course now famous for the Notting Hill Carnival.

Notting Hill wasn't so affluent a place as it is now. I show that in the novel in some of the gritty street scenes of the late 1950s, when the story begins.

The area went through many changes over the years and in a recent trip to my old bridge, I almost didn't find because a whole new housing estate has been built up around it.

In some ways writing WSAG was like a trip down memory lane and a chance to reminisce about my life and where I came from.

A before and after of Portobello Road


  1. I love the way your story evolved. I remember going back to where I lived as a child and trying to spot the places I used to love - sometimes it's hard. I suspect we all write a little of our background into our fiction.
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    1. Yes, when I went back recently I could only recognise some aspects of the layout itself. So much has changed. It's incredible.

  2. Great post for B. I'm sure the details that you can add from experience with enrich the story.

  3. Cities that I grew up in have changed beyond recognition. Not all of them for the better, sadly. I keep reading about them in the newspapers, there's no chance of going back. Liked your choice of word for B. Thanks for a lovely read.
    Best wishes for the A-Z,

    1. Thank you Nilanjana. Look forward to dropping by your blog during the challenge.

  4. Congratulations, Fran. It is quite fascinating how places change so drastically in such a short time. Just goes to prove how fast life is and how we should all relish every moment. I am looking forward to reading When Skies Are Grey. All the best.

  5. It's nice to have an image to refer to when writing. Love the before and after effect.