Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Part Two: Question time



More questions!?

In last month’s blog I let you all know that the draft copy of my book is being read by six very important people whose opinions I value to help shape the final edit. Therefore, this month’s blog is going to have a slightly different feel to previous blogs, which I am very excited about. And I hope you are too. My good friend and sister from another mister – Lisa – suggested that each of my six readers should ask the author (me!?) a question about the story. So below is the second part of the resulting Q&A with my sample readers, and I hope it gives you all a little insight into the actual project itself!


Are situations that arise in the book dealt with differently than how you would have dealt with them in real life?


This is a tricky one to answer without giving too much away. Essentially, yes. Although I would say that Sarah is a little like me in terms of her initial journey – the uncertainty of her feelings, suppressing what she felt and not being able to say things out loud. Her development is that she became more forward and more certain about herself. I would say as her character develops she is much braver and bolder than I would be. I guess she is a vision of how much you can achieve if you follow your own values and stay true to yourself.


Do you think that Sarah being in Australia is the reason she was able to realise things, as she was removed from friends and family? (Sarah is originally from the UK)


This is a good question and perhaps helps explain why I did draw upon personal circumstance for some elements of the story. I was lucky to grow up in a time where the world was slowly changing their opinions on homosexuality, but speaking from experience, being a teenager in the early 90s openly saying you were gay was still hard. I was closeted until I was 22 years old but I knew I liked girls well before that. However, I didn’t openly admit it to myself until I came back from my own travelling experience.


It might explain why I decided to opt to have the book based around travelling, not just for the obvious metaphor of discovery but because you are out of your comfort zone and finally on a path of realising who you are and what you like. You have a lot of time on your own and meeting lots of new people who show you lots of things about yourself. So I am biased in this opinion, also as the writer of Sarah’s fate, but yes, I do think that the distance and being out of her comfort zone helped highlight to Sarah who she was and who she was truly attracted to rather than the influence and perceived acceptance of those she loves.


What was the motivation behind the change in the ending of the story?


My original idea for this book came to me just before I was at university, which was a long time ago now! My initial version was how I wanted the story to end when I was 23 years old. I am now 36 so a lot has changed! When I ended the book the first time round I was over the moon but I had this sub-plot idea which didn’t really fit the story or its ending. However, once I let the goal of finishing the story settle and I read back through what I had written, I realised it could be so much better. My cousin Gareth helped strip it all back by giving me some constructive comments and also some other literature to read to help develop my idea.


In a reference to previous blogs, I met someone earlier this year who used to ask: ‘What do you want?’ ‘What do you dream of?’ ‘What are your goals?’ and ‘What have you learnt?’ It slowly made me realise a few things about myself and I realised my character had not learnt anything and was essentially written through the eyes of a young na├»ve 23 year old, as I was then. The whole situation taught me a lot about self-worth and respect, mainly through losing one and not demanding the other. So I knew the ending had to change to ensure the protagonist had developed and to also accommodate an original idea which I actually think acts as an excellent metaphor. I guess to find out what I mean, well, you’ll have to read the book.


Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.



Monday, 7 December 2015

Part One: Question time

Dah dah! Question time

In last month’s blog I let you all know that the draft copy of my book is being read by six very important people whose opinions I value to help shape the final edit. Therefore, this month’s blog is going to have a slightly different feel to previous blogs, which I am very excited about. And I hope you are too. My good friend and sister from another mister – Lisa – suggested that each of my six readers should ask the author (me!?) a question about the story. So below is part one of the resulting Q&A with my sample readers, and I hope it gives you all a little insight into the actual project itself!

In the book you make lots of references to various songs. Are the songs you refer to ones that have had a significant impact on your life personally, or are they chosen purely for the purpose of the story?

I love this question. For selfish reasons really. I love music which is why I have used it thematically throughout my book. Some of the choices were just big hits in the era in which the book is set but some were actually very influential songs in my life. The first song I reference in the book is by Alexander O’Neil called Criticise and is a very real reference as my Dad used to play it in the car. All the time. On the way to school, on the way to family parties, on the way to sports games and on the way to camping trips. All the time. He used to turn it up loud and it is one of my favourite memories from growing up. My dad was a DJ and his passion for music infected me. Music framed my life growing up and this has continued into adulthood. So when I refer to the fact that I pull on situations and scenarios in my life and fictionalise them, this would be one example.

The most meaningful reference is to a song called Iris by Goo Goo Dolls. It was a massively important song in my life: It was my coming out song and if you listen to the lyrics closely you can see why it might be so important to me: It is about the conflict of emotions of loving someone you really shouldn’t, which is how I felt all the time. Coming out was a big turning point in my life and the song helped me acknowledge what I was feeling. It also reminds me that you can’t help who you have chemistry with or who you are attracted to. The one song I really wanted to use is called Take Me To The Clouds Above by LMC vs U2, but due to the era of the book I was unable to use it. Another hugely important song in my life as it was playing the first time a woman told me that they loved me. It was also when I realised I was falling in love with them (grab some crackers, quince paste and some port just to help that cheese go down a little easier).

How much of yourself do you see in Sarah? (Sarah is the protagonist in the story)

I guess I tried to make Sarah a stronger version of myself. So there are similarities. Definitely one of the most obvious is that she is from Bristol and she ends up living in Australia. Sound familiar?! She follows a similar path to me: I have used my emotional journey of coming out as fundamental input into her character, so I guess I would say from that perspective I see myself in her through the way she coped with it all. I would say Sarah is an ‘aspirational’ version of me in what I would do differently in terms of coping with coming out. However, to keep the character real, she obviously had to be a true reflection of someone younger, so she has to make some mistakes along the way.

I think a lot of people who know me will blur the line but I’ve drawn upon my personal experience to shape the character. Maybe it’s lazy writing but I think from the feedback I have had from my blogs is that my experience of coming out is similar to a large percentage of my gay/bisexual friends. One of the purposes of the book is to show people they are not alone and also maybe give them the super power to process and accept themselves and then help them to live their life guilt free.

What sparked the idea for the book and where did it come from?

I will try to keep this answer succinct because it is actually quite complicated. I was 21/22 when I first thought about writing this book. Essentially I believed I was straight but I had met someone that I had this amazing connection with who was female. I assumed it was just this one-off occurrence and I wanted to write about how this person made me feel: I thought it would make a good story of how amazing attraction can be. However as time progressed I realised this wasn’t a one off situation but that I might actually be attracted to the female of the species. I was deeply embarrassed and ashamed when I figured this out. Then I got to thinking how unfair it was that I should be ashamed of who I was attracted to.

Time has taught me not to make excuses for or to divert blame for my feelings… ‘It must be a phase’… ‘It’s just because it’s someone older that I admire’… Own it and don't be ashamed.

The story became something I had to tell so other people knew they were not alone. Of course the story is not just about coming out, it is about friendship and a journey we all go on through life. So the seed was an amazing connection I had to another human being that developed into my coming out story. However, it is important to say that this isn’t my actual coming out story, it is a story designed for other people coming out to relate to.

To be continued…

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.