I'm most likely lying dazed in a corner with a party hat and a mince pie. Back to normal next week. Hope you're enjoying the holidays.
And so I started to research my subject. I had a friend whose husband was in the forces and had been in Afghanistan who I could ask questions of and I began to hunt out and watch every documentary going.
I researched terminology and the particulars of posting, training and at one point was very much afraid I was getting an MI5 record after phoning the receiving hospital to find out about their security. Someone from the Ministry Of Defence spoke to me on the telephone later.
“Honestly, I’m just an author, trying to get some authentic detail!” I said.
I’m not certain they believed me, but you'll have to forgive me, in the story, I was forced to make that bit up!
As luck would have it, my husband was referred to said hospital a few months later (I’m not sure he felt that lucky!) and I got a first-hand view of the place. I had worked only a few yards away in my student days, but at that time, where the hospital is now, was the car park between my student house and the Medical School, which I had to cross to go home at night.
There are barracks near my home town and the town I grew up in and I had now seen the hospital. The nightclub is the one I used to go to in my youth and the interior of the two houses where Sam lived, were the upstairs of my student house on top of my old family home's downstairs, and my best friend’s house from my childhood days. I’d now watched many documentaries about life on the front line in Afghanistan (thank you kindly, Ross Kemp) and closer to home, began to picture a particular park in the town where I now live. Location was sorted.
For me, the plot seems to unfold as I write it. When I’m out of plot, I think and wonder what might happen next and when I get excited, that’s when I sit back down to write. I might write nothing for a week, or write for 10 hours in a day. I have no structure. I write when I can and stop when I cannot.
Next time I’ll tell you a bit about who I put in my book.
I am asked fairly often where I get my ideas for writing and do I base my characters on people, so I thought I would start a series of posts about these things, to let you into my world, such that it is, and share a bit about how each book was built. Let me start at the beginning. The Songbird and the Soldier.
When I was younger, (many moons ago) around my second year at university if I recall, our country was involved in a conflict in Kuwait and a call went out for people to write to soldiers on the front line, to keep their spirits up. I was one of those who answered this call and found myself writing on blue foldup letters, sending them across the world and waiting for their response.
As you would expect from a soldier, they were full bravado and flirtation, but honesty too. It was fun while it lasted. Photos went to and fro and I got a real feel for the camaraderie among the men. That was many years ago now, but it gave me a little insight into the style of communication at such a time.
Fast forward several years and I was in a bit of a lull with my writing. It seemed to be going nowhere and at this time, I started to read a love story about a soldier coming home from a conflict. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I couldn’t get into it, but it did get me wondering if I should write the sort of story I wanted to read. Maybe this was what I needed. Shake the cobwebs off and get my teeth into something completely different. I wanted to highlight the insecurity of holding onto a relationship, still in its youth, with so many miles between them and so I tried and this was where it began.
Next time I will tell you a little more about how I brought the MOD down on my head when I started to do some research.
Phones. Technology. Providers.
Oh My God!
My son has just got a mobile phone now he’s started high school, only a pretty basic one, just so he can keep in touch. It came with a one month package... After the first month, it seemed I could get a better deal elsewhere, so I ordered a new sim with a contract at only £5 a month and it seemed to be as easy as slip it in and activate.
The new sim arrived – cue beginning of contract - and I put it in his old phone and - no. Phone was locked to current provider. Locked? Nobody mentioned it could be locked. So, I find the site to get it unlocked and you have to pay, so I try to add money to his account to pay and the computer says no.
How am I supposed to unlock the phone if they won’t take my money? In the end, and after much gnashing of teeth, I tried on the landline and it worked. I’m not saying I resented having to pay a round number for a nonround fee, but I did and begrudgingly, that was that, or so I thought.
They then informed me that it could take up to 10 days to unlock. His original pack had less than a day to run, so I then had to add more money on, more than he would ever use, as a minimum payment, so that he wouldn’t be without a phone for the next UP TO ten days. Did I mention how hacked off I was by now? No? Well if I explain to you that so far this had taken 2 phone calls, pressing 1 for this and 2 for that… and around 2 hours on the net, then you might begin to understand why. Add in to that my hubby coming home and doing the recycling LOUDLY behind me and singing whilst I was trying to make said calls and then questioning me if I was doing it right…
So. I now tried to top up an exorbitant amount for the few days left to go and twice the computer said no. So I tried the phone way again and twice it told me I COULD top up now, but then went blank and never actually asked for the money… or so I thought.
By this time I was wanting to throw the bloody thing through a window and with a last ditch attempt, I used my son’s mobile to try it from the actual phone we were talking about and as we did, a text came in saying current credit was what I wanted it to be.
So he now has some credit (Lord knows how much. Depends if the 2 aborted phone calls added more too.) and an 'unlocking' in process and at some point in the near future I’ll just have to set him up on the new sim.
Simply pop it in.
I mean, how hard could it be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
Wife, mother, lapsed doctor. Hopelessly in love with every hero I've ever written.