How Did We Come Up With the Idea for the Shona Jackson Series?
Basically, I’ve written stories all my life.
I’m a songwriter, I’ve got some songs on iTunes, I’ll put a link to those. If you’re into pop music, ballads, dance music, stuff like that.
If you’re into songwriting yourself, you’ll understand that basically words are expensive, you can’t waffle, you’ve got to tell a story and you’ve got two verses, three verses sometimes and a chorus to get your point across.
When you’re writing a song, there can be nothing that detracts from the main storyline. The good thing about that is that, is when it comes to writing short stories or eventually books, my aim was just to get straight to the point.
When I was writing songs, I always knew that I wanted to progress onto writing short stories, which is what I did in school and I did as part of my degree course. I did a creative writing module when I was doing my psychology and criminology degree, but then also it was on my bucket list to write a book. We always say that we’ve got a book in us.
Because it was on my bucket list, I wanted to know how to start writing a book because it felt like it was a massive mountain to climb.
What I did is I joined a writing group in Stanford-le-Hope, which is where I’m from. The lovely lady that runs it, Sharon Atkinson, really encouraged me and my co-author Claire Hackney to just start experimenting really, and I think that’s a lot of the problem which is with creatives is we always want to get it right straight away. We always fill up, we’re going to be judged, but the truth is just make loads of mistakes, explore different genres, explore different ideas. What Sharon did, which is I’ll be forever grateful, is she kind of made us come out of our comfort zone and each month she would set us a task to write in an area that we wouldn’t normally write in, to explore something we wouldn’t normally explore. I remember in particular that this particular month, I think it was the month of May, we had to write a short story on a vending machine. A VENDING MACHINE!!!!
Now she used to pick things that would be really uninspiring to really get our creative juices going. I was sitting there thinking, “What can I write about a vending machine that would be good enough to read, entertaining?” For ages I was trying to think, “Could it be a magic vending machine? Could it be a time traveling vending machine?” I thought that’s not really me, even though when it’s come out of my comfort zone, I thought that’s not really me. What I did was is I started to think of, “Okay, would people meet at this vending machine?” That’d be the story. Who could meet? I thought about people were having an affair and I thought, “Well, that’s kind of, that’s been done to death.” I thought, “Well, that all depends on the setting, the time, situation.”
I started to explore that a bit more, that two people in particular meeting. Why would that be a good story?
Very long story short, I thought about a controversial storyline, which is what became as Meet Me at 10 and if you’ve read Meet Me at 10, you’ll understand why it’s controversial. Especially with the time that it was written and the area it was written.
I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, but I decided to focus on the 1950s deep South because at that time, I think there were some movies out that I started to watch and I thought, “Do you know what? That really fits in well with Meet Me at 10.” Meet Me at 10 started off as a short story, but the problem was there was, I think it was a 5,000 or a 10,000 word limit on the short story for this monthly competition at Sharon’s group. I remember I was writing until three in the morning and it got to 20 or 30,000 words and I thought, “I can’t submit this to the short story competition, but what I could do is build it into a fully blown novel.”
I thought, “If I’m going to do that, I need to do a lot of research,” and I will be doing a blog on how we did our research for Meet Me at 10 and how we do our research for our books now. I read everything I could on the 1950s, watched all the movies that were around about that time, spoke to people, messaged people on Facebook and Twitter and found out about speech, slang.
Meet Me at 10 was born and the story is controversial, provocative. I don’t want you to read Meet Me at 10 and just go, “Yeah, that’s okay.” You’re going to really feel something when you read this book, and that is because it is born out of powerful stories.
If you’ve read Meet Me at 10, you know exactly what I mean with how it ends. It needed a sequel, and it got one. The Beach House.
Also, there is not just a sequel.
We thought because Shona Jackson, who’s the main character has got such a compelling backstory and she is quite a magnetic character, that we decided to do a prequel and that’s where Shona was born.
This tells how she ended up in the place where Meet Me at 10 starts and while she’s on the run.
I do hope that you check out the series.
Comment down below if you have read the Shona Jackson series, let us know what you think.
Also, you can sign up to our mailing list, which I will leave a link below too so you can be the first to hear as to what other products we’ve got on the go and trust me, 2020, there is loads on the go.
Thank you so much, take care,
Start the series here: https://geni.us/ReadShonaNOW
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