Monday, 4 January 2010

Lorraine Jenkin's Blog

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you had an enjoyable and restful holiday. First day back and kicking off EI for 2010 is a blog from an author featured in the new cycle. Lorraine Jenkin's novel Eating Blackbirds.

Who's Under Your Bed?

Strange really, how one small experience can inspire a whole book; for my second novel, Eating Blackbirds, it was that simple. I had an old house and my bedroom was in the attic, accessed by a stepladder. The attic lights were across the room and to reach them, I negotiated low beams, sloping ceilings and the clutter of a woman for whom being house-proud was something that happened to other people.

I got used to cracking my head on beams and once went for two weeks with a large scab across the bridge of my nose for having mis-judged my own height after a good night out. Of course, the sensible thing would have been to leave a light on downstairs - but that would have been too easy.

Whilst abroad writing my first novel, Chocolate Mousse and Two Spoons, I was dragged down an alleyway by a man with a knife and had a fight with him (it’s OK - I have three brothers, so I won) and it changed my feelings of safety and fed my “monster imagination”. Returning from my trip, I was no longer simply afraid of breaking my nose on entering my bedroom, I was suddenly aware of all sorts of other possibilities.

I spent weekends at my partner’s and would return Sunday night to my cold, empty house and as I crept up the ladder, I would imagine what would be hiding in my bedroom, waiting to grab my feet as I stumbled for the light switch. My rational mind could dispel the monsters, but I would move onto the bloke who lived in a cold cave in the hills who knew that my house was empty. He would reach through the dog flap and slide the bolt. He would start by warming himself by the fire, but as confidence grew, he would watch telly, cook a meal or take a bath. I imagined him comfy in my bed, thinking he would snooze for an hour or so, but still being there when I got home…

Of course, the obvious place to hide when you are about to be discovered in someone’s bed would be underneath it (although in reality, there was probably not enough room to hide a troll, let alone a bloke). And so, my character Godfrey was born…

Eating Blackbirds was therefore worked backwards and forwards from the point of Godfrey lying under the bed in the rarely-occupied second home that he has “moved into”, because his own home (and life) is cold and sparse. He starts by spotting an interesting book and “borrowing” it, and moves on to taking his washing there and luxuriating in their bathtub. As expected, the owner finally makes an appearance, hence Godfrey lying there trying to resist grabbing his host’s ankles…

People who know me aren’t sure whether to quite believe that I never took my washing to the second home that I used to clean. Did I honestly not do a load of cooking for my freezer in their cooker, rather than use my own electricity? Did the writing about someone stealing teabags from work roll off my pen just a little too easily?

For my response, I have honed my indignant look and mutter about the virile imagination of authors…

Author Profile
Lorraine Jenkin quit her job and went off round the world to write her novel, Chocolate Mousse and Two Spoons. She has written a variety of pieces for newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian and The Times. Her second novel, Eating Blackbirds, was released last July by Honno and her third, Cold Enough to Freeze Cows is due in July 2010.

No comments: