Thanks for the memories

You cannot hope to sweep someone away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you – Stephen King

So, today’s post is a bit of a cheat. It’s not really today’s (Saturday’s or Friday’s) post at all. Basically my guests for Friday night arrived at 4pm not 7 and left Sunday morning not Saturday afternoon. I got the chance to handwrite a post while cooking but no opportunity to get on the computer. As a result this one time I’m going to do a two-day blog so that I don’t end up having to write three in one go to catch up to Sunday…

We spent a lot of the time reminiscing – retelling family stories and laughing ourselves silly or getting misty-eyed about places and people. It was lovely, but it also really brought home to me how odd memory is. We were a small group and we are all closely related. For the most part, we’d all been at the events we were talking about. And in almost all instances we were absolutely sure that we remembered precisely what happened and we all disagreed with each other. I won’t bore you but, for example, we either always wanted our first terrier, my brother got over-ruled and we got a terrier despite his wish for a spaniel, we ‘borrowed’ a spaniel for a weekend to see how a larger dog would work in our house or we brought home a spaniel puppy and then took it back when it was too disruptive – and on it went.

As a keen watcher of cop shows, I’ve often heard it said that the least reliable form of evidence is an eye-witness. I know that it’s something that can be used to great effect when writing crime fiction. I find that when you’re getting a first-person point of view the fact that what they saw happen and remember happening don’t actually have to be the ‘truth’, and may well not align with other witnesses’ remembrances, can read brilliantly when handled with skill.

But I also think the nature of memory gives authors something really interesting to explore. How do you capture your readers’ imagination so well that they build memories around your books? Some of my favourite memories are of books that I read when I was quite young – Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Alexander Dumas, Daniel Defoe and many others, all had a profound effect on me and helped to shape the adult that I became. Definitely influenced the way that I think and see the world. Something that I find awesome to contemplate.

I wonder if I’ll ever manage to do that to an audience. To create people to inhabit my stories and not characters. To give readers somebody that they can really relate to – who they care about as much as I care about them as I write. Somebody where they want to know what comes next.

Something to think about now – a goal to remember when I’ve succeeded.

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