Saturday, 8 November 2008

Where do stories come from?

I get mine from places. And people, of course. People are important. But the things that people do and the things that happen to them don’t become stories until they’ve got somewhere to happen.

Delamere Forest in Cheshire is a great place for starting to turn the Things That Happen into stories. I always come away with a head full of first chapters. The meres do it for me. There's lots of them, meres and boggy hollows formed when the glaciers of the last ice age retreated.

Take this beautiful, haunting, eerie, creepy pool. Black Lake. It's a little bit out of the way but not too difficult to find. Don't try to get to the water's edge along here. That's a floating raft of vegetation and don't be fooled by the birch saplings growing on it. It won't take your weight. You might just drop through it into five metres of water underneath. Do that in the spring when vegetation is rapidly growing and there soon wouldn't be a trace...

I walk around the lake and I fancy that I can see chain gangs of French prisoners from the Napoleonic war. They're being put to work digging drainage ditches - an ill-conceived scheme to reclaim land from the ancient peat bogs. Or at Black Lake here, enlarging it a little to create a duck pond. A duck pond? Here, in this remote part of the Forest? Why? Who wants a duck pond just here?. Maybe if I sit down by the water and close my eyes I'll see a little more clearly what's going on. Or I could ask my Gran. She has lots of stories to tell about this place. She'll be about a hundred and thirty now.

For now I'll get on with telling the story of Tom Westwood trying to discover what became of Susan, the girl at Snig's Foot Cottage. You can read a few chapters over at my website

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