Sunday, 10 August 2014

Everything is story fodder...

Writers always get asked where they get their story ideas and we always think that's an odd question. Stories ideas are everywhere and everyone has them. We all go into work Monday morning full of stories from the weekend. The only difference between writers and non-writers is that we spin ours out until they reach book length! Every experience can be used in a book. But, I've found, the most humiliating ones are the best.

Take my contribution to the Second Chances boxed set - Laura's Big Break. Laura is terrible at riding a bike. She has one disaster after another while on a cycling trip through Holland. Unfortunately, most of what Laura does, I did before her. I was a cycling legend in my husband's home town. In a country where most people learn to cycle before they can walk, I was a source of fascination. Especially for the kids - they'd never seen an adult fall off a bike before.

There's no way I could do this!!
This is because my husband bought me my first ever bike when I was 25.And he didn't just buy me a normal bike. Oh no. He bought a granny bike. Which meant it had no handbrakes, or gears, and you had to cycle backwards to stop the thing. Add to this the fact I am five foot two and all bikes in Holland are made for giants and you have an accident waiting to happen. Not only did I have to remember to cycle backwards to stop, I then had to fall over slightly so my foot could reach the ground! Just let's say I'm not known for my coordination and I never managed to get the hang of this.

Yep. It all looks lovely, until you're in the canal...
My cycling became the stuff of local legend. I was entertainment for the masses. Wherever I went people stopped to watch me wobble by, screaming and squealing, as I balanced miles above the ground. I cycled into the same wall, in front of a busy market, three times. When people stopped laughing they would clap. I also cycled into a canal. My husband had to pull me and the bike out of it. And I got my bike stuck in tramlines in Amsterdam. I screamed as a bell ringing tram aimed for my backside. Some poor guy, who was laughing hysterically, ran into the road and hauled me off the bike, then yanked it from the tram tracks and my life was spared. Again, people clapped. And laughed.

After that, my husband traded my granny bike in for a kid's bike with handbrakes and a very loud horn. As my legs are seriously short, the bike fit perfectly. And it had the added bonus of being bright purple and adorned with streamers.
And don't get me started on finding your bike once you've parked it!!
The moral of this story - apart from the fact Scottish women should not be allowed to cycle in Holland - is that everything in life is fodder for a story. The more I humiliate myself, the more fun my characters have.
And hopefully my readers too.

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