“It used to make me feel special, the fact that they knew me, knew what I wanted, but it had soured with repetition. I’d become my drink order – that’s what it felt like. But it was okay. People watching in this place made me feel part of the world, got me away from the house for a few hours. And it was here she came back to me. I hadn’t seen her for three decades and suddenly there she was, standing next to my table.
Another Shot tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop thirty-five years after the end of their teenage romance. Jo-Jo finds Freddie through a mutual friend, and tells him that she is emigrating following the death of her husband. She gives him a photograph of the two of them on their first weekend away, a trip to Blackpool.
How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart is all told through a series of flashbacks. These memories feed into events when they meet up again and explain why, despite the passage of time and the intensity of their still simmering love, there is no future for their relationship.
The Shots trilogy, starting with Another Shot, is based on a first love relationship I had at the same age as a teenage Freddie and Jo-Jo. Writing these stories has been a cathartic process, but turning fact into fiction has proven to be challenging. I’ve had to set myself some ground-rules and I thought it might be interesting to share my top five:
1 – Make the most of your research – Use photos, diaries, notebooks, birthday and Christmas cards that help transport you back to the time in your life you’re writing about. These will all help stimulate your creative juices.
2 – Be sensitive – Remember it’s a story based on fact so even though you’ve been creative with your amalgamations caricatures of real life people, some people may still recognise themselves. You don’t want to run the risk of alienating your family and friends. That could make Christmas gatherings a bit awkward.
3 – Create interesting characters – Complicated characters with flaws will pique a reader’s interest and help the story to fly. I wanted to give Freddie and Jo-Jo strong back stories that had heavily influenced their personality development – mainly Freddie’s relationship with his mum and Jo-Jo’s relationship with her dad.
4 – Be confident – This is your story, from your life, but you’re turning it into fiction, which means you can be creative. If you say Freddie drunk tight-rope walked across a sea-side wall in Sitges then that’s what happened.
5 – Edit with enthusiasm – Make your story as tight as you can, checking every word, every sentence over and over and assessing its value to the story. Do not leave anything in that disrupts the flow or detracts from the plot. Get the basics right: grammar, punctuation, structure, rhythm. Read your drafts out loud. How do they sound? Does it hold together? Have you given the reader time to breathe? Put the draft away, come back to it a week later and repeat the process until you’re 100% happy.
How would you turn fact into fiction? What would be your ground-rules?
Thank you, Stephen Anthony Brotherton and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
‘I was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai. After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now taken early retirement to write the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.
Another Shot is the first book in the Shots trilogy, which is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes. The second book, An Extra Shot, will be published in July 2019. I am currently working on the final instalment.
Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them. ‘
Social Media Links
Twitter – https://twitter.com/FreddieJoJo1