Friday, 16 February 2018

Winter Inspiration by Claire Fayers

Since taking on an allotment, I’ve become far more aware of the passing seasons. Not just in gardening, but in writing. Winter is traditionally a fallow time, a time for the ground to rest, for roots to work their way invisibly until, just when you thought everything was dead, new shoots of inspiration appear. I’ve actually been fairly productive in writing recently. Copy-edits of book three, first draft of book four. But I’m always aware of the gaping void that lies beyond the current work in progress, that scary patch when I’m going to have to come up with new ideas. And, of course, with World Book Day looming, I’m getting ready for the perennial question “Where do you get your ideas from?”

I have a hundred different answers for that question. I keep changing my mind because there’s no one answer that feels right. Today, I thought I’d share a few moments of wintry inspiration.

I love snow. The way it covers everything, turning the ground into mashmallow and trees into Christmas ornaments. The way it squeaks underfoot like you’re walking on halloumi. And the rhythm of skiing. Those rare times when I swish along effortlessly feel almost like the moment when a first draft is going well.

My first book, Voyage to Magical North, saw my pirate crew sail to the top of the world in search of treasure and magic. I haven’t gone back to a cold climate since, but I’m thinking my next book should be icy.

This picture was hanging in our holiday apartment in snowy Trysil. It reminded me of the various folktales of women who marry wild animals and discover they are princes in disguise. It also brought to mind the gloriously weird German-made Singing Ringing Tree which I saw as a child and have never forgotten. 

I love the sense of mystery in this picture. We can’t see the princess’s face properly, but she seems peaceful. She’s holding something – a flower wreath, a ring of bread? It’s hard to tell, but it must be important.

This show had passed me by entirely while it was on the BBC, but various friends raved about it much I bought my husband the DVDs for Christmas so I could watch it. We took it away on holiday and binge-watched all nineteen episodes over six evenings. My friends were right as usual. It's beautifully scripted with subtle humour and a real kindness and respect for the characters. It would have been so easy to turn this into a parody, poking fun at people and their strange hobbies, instead we found that we genuinely cared about these characters. We wanted them to find their treasure (both actual and metaphorical.)

Come to think of it, buried treasure is quite an appealing subject in itself. I wonder if I can link it in to winter and a mysterious white bear…

Wishing you all many moments of inspiration.


Sue Purkiss said...

I've only recently discovered The Detectorists too - I saw the last series on iplayer. I agree - it's just lovely. Subtle and funny and true.

Anne Booth said...

Lovely post - and I love The Detectorsts too! Good luck with your book!