Being a product of your environment

Rocky Road CakePhil: Are we all products of our environment ?

The question occurred to me after visiting the Home of Metal exhibition in Birmingham. It’s an excellent event which tells the story of heavy metal from its earliest origins to the modern-day. For those of you reading this and not wearing tight black leather trousers while being deafened by the latest ditty from Napalm Death on the stereo, the genre was born in the heavy industry of the Black Country. The name stems from the sort of work on offer there – heavy engineering, more particularly metal bashing. The environment was run down and dark and this begat heavy and dark music.

Very few people born in Wolverhampton grew up thinking of show tunes.

Which brings me back to the book. After the exhibition we were sitting in central Brum enjoying  a ROCKy road cake (see what I did there ? ROCK – y road ! I’ve got loads like this) and pondered that the book is very much like this. It grew out of the situation we found ourselves in at the time. They say you should write about what you know and that’s kind of what we did.

But there is more. The characters are also products of their background. Kate, our protagonist, has a back story and this has led her to where we find her in the book. She doesn’t know it at the start but it also provides the basis for the dilemmas she faces during the story. So even though she is fictional, we’ve had to create a history for her – just like every author before us. In fact if you write for a soap opera you find yourself locked in a room before starting, to read the official story of each character so you don’t get it wrong – bad news for Dr Who writers as the character is several hundred years old so it must be a fat book. When we got started we wrote some short character biographies ourselves. Needless to say this is now out of date and by the time we get to book 5, keeping track of it all will be a challenge.

Mind you, we never actually sorted out Kate’s musica tastes. There is a brief mention of her iPod but that’s in the gym and surely this doesn’t count ?


Filed under Phil, Writing

2 responses to “Being a product of your environment

  1. True, in part. I was brought up in Dagenham, home of the mighty Ford factory in the 60’s and near to the London docks. A gritty and slightly bleak landscape. But for some strange reason I was allowed to paint pictures and play around with typefaces and therefore was able to break free into an alien environment – the Madmen in London. Most people’s lives seem to zigzag about, some all over the world and somehow I’ve ended up in south west France, still painting and playing about with type. I would really like to be playing with me trains but………
    (Is that a plastic Airfix figure in the background?)

  2. Pingback: How to win X Factor | nolanparker

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