There have been many occasions when I have seen or heard something, a single image, that immediately inspired a potential story. There’s the ruined cottage two fields down from my garden. There’s the dark lane I used to walk along, coming home from Junior School, where all sorts of unpleasant people might be lurking. There’s the guide, giving me a tour of Ightham Mote, who casually remarked, without further explanation, as we moved from one room to the next, “This is where workmen discovered the skeleton of a woman, walled up behind the panelling.” I see or hear something and one tiny idea begins to expand like a cell dividing. Sometimes an entire book emerges. Sometimes it doesn’t.
An image that never quite made it was one which used to spring itself on me whenever I travelled home, late at night, from Birmingham along the A40. There are other images…
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