STORIES OF LIFE, STORIES OF LOVE
I’m proud of the collection of short stories, Stories of Life, Stories of Love. Not the least because of the way they look. The cover flowers were photographed by my husband (or consort, as I prefer to call him). Many were taken in Singapore, some at London’s Hampton Court, others in different parts of Australia. Perhaps we should have included Australian native flowers, because most of these tales are set in Australia.
There’s one exception. There’s None So Blind was inspired by English ancestors. My four times great grandparents, to be precise. What a life they led! Comments from several writers of historical romance encouraged me to expand on the scene in There’s None So Blind, where the hero is ostracised and ridiculed. Though it’s done discreetly, he is a sensitive soul, and feels the scorn of “polite” society deeply. I needed little urging to write the complete story. So much happened to these relatives and their friends and those close to them, that There’s None So Blind evolved naturally into my historical romance, The Heart Has Its Reasons.
I’m fond of the elderly librarians in Spring has Sprung. This story is pure fiction, but like all my writing, there were characters, locations, or occurences I’d encountered over the years that set my mind to wondering, “What if?” I’d love to write a series about these interfering old busybodies, but I fear their gentle, elderly ways would not spark interest enough amongst readers of today.
Stories of Life, Stories of Love mostly have happy endings. In the Southern Wild is the exception. I decided to write something dramatic. I saw a landscape. Dark thunderclouds. Bleached grass. A wreck of a house. The story then quickly fell into place. Not a happy tale but, I hope, one with an optimistic conclusion. It’s not a story of love, either, except perhaps between a mother and her son, but it’s definitely a story of life.
Growing up, each year we travelled by train to Leeton in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area to visit my grandmother. By the time I knew her, she’d been in Australia more than forty years, but she still had a strange, lilting accent. She cursed in Welsh. Loved watching The Cisco Kid and Desi Arnaz in I Love Lucy on television, especially when Spanish was spoken. She received letters with strange stamps from brothers she’d not seen since she arrived in Australia. We heard tall tales about her galloping across the Argentinian pampas on her horse, sidesaddle! (I guess the sidesaddle business stuck in my brain, because I’ve used a bit of business about this in my latest novel.) It was intriguing to find she’d had a shipboard romance with a doctor on the long voyage to Australia. This last piece of information informed the situation in the short story, Threading Pearls. I understood more about her when I visited Argentina, twice, and got to know many members of our extended family. And felt very inferior, realising how many of them are trilingual, as was she (with a little Italian thrown in for good measure).
There are other stories in the collection. All the product of my imagination. But, of course, little situations, places, snippets of conversation, and people’s characteristics are absorbed by my mind. What then happens, they turn into a potpourri of different stories. Maybe I’ve read something in an old newspaper. Maybe an interesting genealogical snippet appears. It’s all grist for the writing mill.
Something that frustrates many a fiction writers is the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” Ideas are everywhere! Those train trips as a child, glimpsing one horse towns on dusty roads, conversations overheard on a city bus or in a busy coffee shop. Most writers develop a nonchalant, disinterested appearance when out in public, but their ears are flapping madly, trying to listen to several conversations at once. America’s a great place for doing this. Some of their citizens seem less inhibited than Australians. In a diner, I once listened avidly to a man loudly recounting to his two friends the problems he was having with his fifth (!) divorce.
Yes, stories are everywhere. The problem is finding the time to write them down, play with them, and produce something I’m happy with. But will there more short stories of the type in Stories of Life, Stories of Love? Most assuredly!