One consistent question I am asked when people find out I am a writer is “where do your ideas come from?” My standard answers are that there are lots of stories in my head, or they just come to me. An amusing situation, a phrase, a lyrical line from a song, the longing look between couples on the train, all have the power to bring forth a story.
I have been writing general fiction short stories for about fifteen years, and have always been a notorious pantser. Now that I am writing Romance, I have to plan my stories and really think about the style, the plot, the emotional timeline, the conflict, and most importantly the happy ending. So writing Romance is a more structured process than I had previously encountered when I sat at my laptop with the germ of an idea, typing away until I had fleshed out a story with a twist at the end.
Sometimes the stories fall into my lap. Tonight as I returned from Melbourne on the Tram, I found myself becoming involved in a conversation between two of my travelling companions. The young man appeared to be in his mid-twenties, and I estimated the young lady to be a few years younger. He was one of those commuters who seem oblivious of everyone around him, and he was loud to the point of embarrassment. When they sat down I tried to focus on page 44 of my book, a lovely Romance by Melanie Milburne, but was constantly being pulled into the conversation due to the decibel level.
When the young man uttered the phrase “Oh when I have children I want them to be born in Scotland”, there was no turning back. He had me, hook, line and sinker. You see, I am Scottish, and any conversation even vaguely mentioning Scotland will get me to sit up and take notice. So I slipped my novel into my handbag, pulled out a notepad, and prepared to be entertained. This situation conjured up a story so bizarre I had no alternative but to jot down my observations. His comments made me smile, each fact seemed unrelated to the one before, but nothing prepared me for his statement that peacocks are the equivalent to guard dogs. So I googled it. ‘Peacocks are known to be as proficient as guard dogs in announcing an intruder, due to the territorial nature of the males.’ Well, how about that. I listened even more intently then, hoping to add to my list of interesting facts. There could be a Trivia Night in my future, and I wanted to be ready.
The young lady, a somewhat quieter version of the young man, sat opposite him and soaked in very word. She had an accent, but spoke English very well. After every comment she made, when he wasn’t talking over the top of her, he consistently praised her with “well done or smart idea, or smart girl”, and you could sense the condescending tone had no effect on her at all. Actually the opposite was happening. She edged closer; her clasped hands resting on her knees were almost touching his leg as she leaned into his personal space. He was wooing her with language, each word music to her ears, each syllable a gentle caress, each statement constructed to lure her into his web.
His foray into politics and religion had me shaking my head. The stories became even more obscure. He declared himself a Celt. He told the young woman she was a Gypsy and she willingly agreed. He described his grandfather who lost his leg in the War. His love of scotch whiskey was so great that he secreted a flask of whiskey in his false leg.
I was scribbling the last titbit in my notepad and looked up to see them both alighting the Tram, heads close together, continuing their conversation. No! Come Back! I am not ready to let you go yet.
Since that night my thoughts have wandered to that couple, and I can’t help but speculate if they did end up together. No doubt one of them was falling in love. The big question is, could there be enough room in his love affair with himself to let her in.
Bringing a smile to the faces of friends and strangers alike is the part Savannah Blaize enjoys most about writing. Entertaining is second nature to the cheeky Scott, who now calls Melbourne home. She has a full time job and writes in the little spare time available to her. Now that her family has grown and left the nest, she longs to give life to the characters in her imagination. They often sneak up on her at the most inappropriate times, so she has learned to always carry a notebook and pen in her voluminous handbags.
A member of the Romance Writers of Australia and the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, her first short story “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” was published last year in an Anthology to mark the MRWG’s 25th year.
A short story writer in the past, due to the instant gratification they provided, she hopes to have her first book on the shelves this year.