Monday, 19 April 2010

Life, death and volcanoes - the bigger picture :Linda Strachan

Every day seems to arrive with a long list of things to do, some urgent and some that have lingered at the foot of my to do list for far too long. It is easy to get carried away with the minutae of everyday life and forget how precious every moment is and how suddenly everything can change.

I am just back from a much needed break in the lake district where we were blessed with wonderful weather and beautiful scenery.

We stayed in the delightful Lindeth Howe, a country house hotel which proudly displays photographs of one of the house's former owners, none other than Beatrix Potter.

Good fortune made us decide against a last minute trip abroad where, of all things, a volcano erupting would have disrupted our holiday plans as it did for many.

But unfortunately holiday plans were not the only things disrupted.

On 23rd May my son, Stuart,  is part of the 'Hairy Haggis' relay team in the Edinburgh Marathon  to raise funds for Marie Curie.  He is taking part in memory of a close friend Bruce McCulloch whose funeral was on Friday. Bruce passed away last Monday after a courageous battle with cancer and will be greatly missed by his lovely wife, Janet and little Zoe.  You can find out more about the run here Janet-McCulloch 

But unfortunately the volcanic ash drifting into UK and much of European airspace meant that some of Bruce's friends and family from France and Switzerland were unable to make it to Edinburgh in time for the funeral and worse still some were left stranded en route, not able to get home again.

Weather affects us all and dramatic weather events can be incredibly useful to a writer.  But if a thriller writer had written about a volcanic dust cloud halting all air travel most people might have thought it was an interesting idea, but fairly implausible.  As the cliché goes, fact is actually stranger than fiction! I wonder how many books will suddenly appear in the next year or so with this as the starting point- it offers so many possibilities.

As writers we look at all aspects of life but the sudden, unexpected and sometimes tragic happenings are often those that seem to dominate.  Tracy Chevalier recently commented when judging the short story competition for Myslexia Magazine that most of the entries dealt with death or sad subjects and she was desperately looking for something humorous and uplifting.  But writing about sad and tragic events has its place and at times we all need to dip in and sample emotions which is what fiction is all about.

Teenagers often seem to dwell dramatically on the deeply tragic, to explore emotions that they have yet to experience or perhaps to make sense of events in heir own lives.

My latest book for teenagers Dead Boy Talking is about a boy who has been stabbed and has 25 minutes to live - and the events that lead up it.  With Spider and now Dead Boy Talking I have found myself writing much darker books for this age group, but it was never a conscious decision.

I think that today is one of those days when I am happy to return to the delights of writing for young children for a while, I think Hamish McHaggis needs to go off on another adventure soon -   everything needs balance!

Read my blog  - Bookwords -
Visit my website - to find out about
my new book Dead Boy Talking - published June 2010- Strident Publishing


Anonymous said...


The Kid In The Front Row said...

This is a wonderful post! And, in fact, I expect "Eyjafjallajökull: The Movie" will probably be in cinema's before the year is out!