One foot in another world
With Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan due for publication in just under a week’s time, I started thinking about why I’d written it. Why this book? Why this story? I can break it down into three reasons: 1) My own inclination to disappear into my own world appealed to me as a theme; 2) I wanted to write a book where the magic came into the real world, and which explored the idea of imagination; 3) I wanted to, in some way, celebrate the life of my wonderful springer spaniel, who died last year on 18th April – hence this being posted today, just a year after his death.
As a child, people around me always said I had ‘one foot in another world’… I did! I was a dreamer. I lived in my head, which made me forgetful, clumsy, and not great at school. I also had a low boredom threshold (I still have), yet, I could entertain myself at home for hours on end. I created fantasy worlds – everything around me was sucked in and bacame part of this. The willow tree in our garden was my magical place where no-one could see me. The waves of musky lavender in the garden, the sleepy sounds of bees buzzing, the cerise nail polish my mum wore on her toes as she hung out the washing… all were registered and stored in the boxes and jars in my head. I can still pull them out at random, remembering exact conversations and what people wore at the time, where they sat and their facial expressions. I’d channel all of this into games I played in my head, things I wrote, pictures I drew. People knew I was in ‘Abi’s world’. Of course, this all probably seemed a bit odd then, but very useful as a writer now, to have all of these memories at my disposal.
I still see the world in a very sensory way. The days of the week all have colours and are in an oval shape. I only discovered two years ago, when trying to work out what date a particular day of the week fell on while I was teaching, and doing an oval shape in the air with my index finger, that the rest of the world didn’t see ‘the week’ like I did… whoops!!! It caused mucho hilarity among my students who had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And, in case you’re wondering, the shades of colour are as I see them, and the positioning of the days are as they appear in my head! Baffling eh? This takes me to the second reason for writing Buttercup Magic – the world is an infinately interesting and fascinating place if you combine it with stuff in your head. Pull the two together and you have a much wider vision. Imagination… that’s all it is, and I wanted to explore this in the book. Megan and Freya both explore their imaginations, so there is a sense of two worlds merging. I like this crossover. Is Buttercup, the beautiful golden dog, real? Can Dorothy, the mysterious black cat, really communicate with the girls? In the end, it doesn’t really matter. After all, this is a story.
And the third reason for Buttercup Magic coming into being was that the initial idea coincided with Baggins, our springer spaniel, being ill. This idea came from a dream – a big old house, a cat who could talk, and mice who could tell the time. But there was no dog. I felt that absence so decided to add in a dog, like Baggins – a big, soppy fella who makes the girls in the book feel safe, who, in effect, becomes their best friend. If Baggins were a person he’d have been the nicest, kindest person you could have met. He really was very special and still leaves a massive Baggins shaped hole. I didn’t start writing the story until after he died, but he kind of drove it, in many ways. He was my Buttercup!
Do you ever wonder about the reasons, the motivation behind you writing a particular story?