The disastrous picnic

Author’s Inside Track: Charlie’s Story

I was amazed how rapidly I became attached to Charlie. I found him to be an endearing character who seemed to be telling his own story. Stanley is based on an old friend of mine, Rex and, believe it or not, all those anecdotes are true. I have tried to create a bit of mystery around Stanley. I want the reader to be initially unsure about him, and we never get to hear his story. If I have done him justice, his demise toward the end of the book will affect you as it did me.

Audrey is kind of based on Audrey Hepburn in my mind. She was rather like Charlie insofar as she stepped out of the page and started to write her own story. Combined with Harry, Bill and Lizzy, each of their individual stories is compelling in its own right but what I have really tried to do is to allow the reader into the minds of these characters. If we know aspects of their lives intimately, we will know them intimately.

I have tried to keep Charlie’s presence in front of the reader at all times, but without actually revealing anything about his background. I am hoping that, when it finally comes time for him to tell his story, the reader will eagerly anticipate it. We know him well by that stage and so, with all the characters vividly portrayed in our minds, we can experience his tragic story through every one of them. I admit I am delighted with the ending; I still can’t read it without it affecting me!

What I have tried to achieve is a story which starts at a gentle pace, and softly treads a path between joy and despair, all helped along with a little humour. The more difficult part was creating a less obvious narrative layered beneath the story. Behind the gentle façade lies a far more serious study of the human condition, which I hope paradoxically is even more revealing for having been concealed. I have also tried to gradually increase the pace of the story, so that the emotional intensity is ratcheted up as it progresses towards that dramatic ending. Have I succeeded? Only you, Dear Reader, can tell me that!

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