Oh well, they’re gone, and yes, I shall miss them and no, I haven’t signed up for airbnb its simply that I’ve just finished my latest book A Short Break and the cast have left the building, well at least my head.
But, here’s the odd thing. While I know perfectly well all these people are figments of my imagination, I’ve discovered that an extraordinary number of others think they actually exist, and while a real live person may well have inspired me in the first place to - let’s say - lightly embellish them to fit my story, I’d never have a friend left or a relative not dropping me from their Christmas card list, if they were entirely based on them. So, I’m always astonished when friends tell me they recognised them instantly.
Take, for example, Elena Guseva, one of the central characters in A Single Journey, who I ‘found’ while having coffee with a friend in a cafe in Berlin. A neighbour, she said, of her own great grandmother, both long dead, who had lived in pre war Berlin over a jewelry shop but escaped that terrifying regime to live in London.
However, she most certainly wasn’t based on the Bulgarian woman who had once lived in a friend’s mansion block in Putney who crucially, it seems, just like Elena, wore straw hats. All the proof, apparently needed to rest their case.
And then there’s, Ed, the love interest in A Kept Woman. Never known one of my heroes to prompt so many nudges from my friends wanting me to bring him to their next bash. If only. But yes, there he was one night hosting a charity event at the Dogs at Towcester, and became the inspiration for the rough diamond hero of my book, the man so many of my friends wanted me to bring for dinner. If only.
No, he didn’t own nightclubs as my Ed did, he was into something or other in the City, but he was as big as an ox, worth a shed-load, and best of all for my purposes, looked like the arrangement of his nose had been decided in a street fight. Physically he fitted the bill, but since he’d clearly had a humour by pass -didn't get any of my jokes, nope not one - he wouldn’t have lasted till pudding with most of my heroines. Ed rocked them into – well you see where I’m going with this.
And now there’s Stella, in A Short Break. Years ago, I interviewed the real Stella, just out of prison she was, and finding life very tough, but now, I’m told, she's straight as a die, and no I didn’t need to find her again, because she’s been living in a notebook I keep in a drawer in my desk, where I store all these people waiting to be cast in a book. The real Stella now lives in Wales not Peckham, but even so, you never know who will tell me they bumped into her. You see, nothing and no-one is ever wasted.
Mind you, having said that, I’m a bit iffy at the moment, about a man a good friend of mine met on line, pin stripe suit, Mercedes at the kerb - who confided to her over a drink that he only wanted to please her by cleaning her house from top to bottom wearing just Marigolds. But maybe, and just thinking randomly here, with a strategically placed apron instead of the Marigolds, it could work.
Hope you enjoy the book, and if you have time, let me know won’t you?