writing

Stranger Than Fiction

I’m so excited to be back blogging on the wonderful Girls Heart Books. Lots has been happening while I’ve been away but I’ve decided to tell you about one particular thing. It happened while I was on holiday in Israel last May and I can’t stop thinking about it, even now, seven months later.

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Here we are on our first day after heading straight for the beach!

I actually used to live in Israel. My family emigrated there when I was 14 and I stayed until I was 23. I’ve only been back three times since then and my visit in May was the first for sixteen years. I was really excited to show my two boys where I spent my teenage years – my house, my school and other places I hung out. I was also really excited to see my best friend Julia who I’ve never lost touch with and who, like me, has two children aged 11 and 13.

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Julia and I on the beach at Cessaria

When Julia heard I was coming she asked if I would do an author visit at her children’s school. Ella and Dov have read all my books and are great fans so of course I said yes. Now anyone that knows me knows that I get quite nervous about talking in front of strangers (I don’t mind the children, it’s the adults I have problems with!) so saying yes from the safety of my office in England was much easier than the prospect of actually speaking in front of 70 children, 3 teachers and a librarian once we were in Israel and the date to visit the school was only a few days away.

On the morning of the visit, after a sleepless night, we were sitting by the pool waiting for Julia to pick us up (my husband and children were coming along for a bit of moral support) and Freddy my 11-year-old was free-style dancing as he often is, lost in the moment and utterly brilliant.

“If only you could get up and dance at the school instead of me speaking about my books,” I said. “I’m sure it would go down better than me blathering on for an hour.”

“Well you should’ve written a book about a dancer and then I would,” came his response.

“But what if”…I said, my brain springing in to action…”what if I told them my NEXT book was going to be about a boy dancer?”

The ideas came thick and fast.

The boy would be called Cory. He’d be living in foster care.

He’d only dance at night when no one else could see.

Dancing was something he felt ashamed of. His mum has made him feel that way, she was depressed and bitter after a terrible accident had left her in a wheelchair.

A girl at the foster home would watch him in secret. She’d suffered a trauma and hadn’t spoken since. Watching the boy dance each night unlocked something inside her.

She enters the boy in a free-style dancing competition and against all the odds he wins…his Mum comes to watch…the girl starts talking again.

It would be called NIGHT DANCER

Suddenly I wasn’t scared to do the visit – I couldn’t wait to get there. We arrived at the school and were shown in to a large library where 70 children and staff were waiting.

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I talked a bit about the books I’d already written and about my life as an author…the usual stuff…and then I told them about the book I would be starting as soon as the holiday was over…

We turned out all the lights and drew the blinds against the bright midday sunshine. My older son Callum played some music on his phone and Freddy came up to the front and began to dance.

They all watched spellbound…when he finished they cheered and crowded round asking for his autograph. They wanted to know everything about the book…details I hadn’t even thought of. It was a resounding success.

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The pictures of Freddy dancing on the day didn’t come out very well – but here he is dancing in a recent show.

I haven’t started NIGHT DANCER yet as other projects had to be finished first – but I’ll be starting it very soon. I feel like Cory has been living with me, inside my head, for the past seven months, and he’s ready to come out.

I can’t wait until it’s finished and someone asks me (as they always do) where I got the idea…sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction…

The only problem is, I’ll have to take Freddy with me on all my school visits!!!

9 thoughts on “Stranger Than Fiction

  1. Brilliant post! I love when ideas come like that! But isn’t it agony when you want to write it now, but you have to wait until other projects are finished? I have actually put current projects aside when that happens. It sounds to me like Cory’s story really wants to be written ASAP!

    • I know what you mean Kate and the book I had to finish was causing me massive headaches but it had to be done! It was probably good in a way because the idea hasn’t faded so I know it has to be written!

  2. Hey, that’s what I call “thinking on your feet.” Hooray for Freddie. He may have just launched his own career as well as helping yours. What great fun when your family can be so much a part of your life’s work.

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