What Inspired Me to Write My Book
by Ted Tayler
About eighteen months ago I had an idea for a story based on the experiences of a mate of mine. A single guy, in his late thirties, he was telling me all his troubles over a few beers. He had a female acquaintance, about five years younger than him, who was all over him like a rash for months. She’d turn up on his doorstep with a pizza and DVD on a Saturday evening and persuade him not to go out with the lads but to stay at home with her. On these occasions and after other social events where they accompanied one another or just met up along with other friends with similar interests, nothing ever happened between them sexually.
My mate was keen to move the relationship on to another level. The young lady was not to be moved. As well as their face to face liaisons, they also used social media and mobile phones to comment on what one another was doing, where they were going, whether they would see one another etcetera. They displayed all the usual modern communication rituals.
I was not in a position to give him any meaningful advice. My dating days were so far behind me I’d forgotten how painful they were! Once the dust had settled and he’d come to terms with the situation, he hoped she would leave the door open for a platonic friendship in the future. He was fervently hoping she wouldn’t block him on Facebook and cut him out of her life totally.
While we chatted around this phenomenon, which I never had to deal with in those long ago days, we hypothesised on how he might continue to follow what she was up to, despite the block she might have imposed. ‘Can’t be done’ he said ‘you’d search for her name and anyone in the world with the same name would come up, but not her. If seven people ‘liked’ a photograph a mutual friend posted and she was one of them, only six names would be identified!’
That’s when the original idea for a novel came to me. My character was married, in his early forties, with no children and in a dead end job with a firm where the next batch of redundancies was likely to see him on the scrap heap. The young lady he met was about eighteen; she toyed with his affections in the same way my mate suffered and ultimately chewed him out for daring to describe them as ‘friends’. ‘We’re not friends. We’re Facebook friends or ‘pub’ mates that’s totally different!’ She blocked him.
He adopted a new name and persona. He made new ‘friends’ despite the fact that none of them actually knew him. He used his own name to introduce his new persona to a mutual friend of both himself and the young lady. Once a ‘friend request’ had been accepted this opened the door and ‘friends of friends’ were being suggested as possible additions. In every community there’s one girl who has four or five thousand ‘friends’. They can’t stop themselves ‘clicking’. No-one has that many friends! He found that girl. Surprise, surprise, she was a friend of the young girl he was stalking. Now he had access to every move she made, every picture she posted. He tracked her movements. Eventually he murdered her.
Does this sound far fetched? Facebook and Twitter are littered with accounts set up for exactly this purpose. All sorts of official agencies use them to track criminals, terrorists and so on but the vast majority are set up by individuals. Thankfully, murder isn’t very often the end result. It may be illegal or at the very least ill-advised, but it’s as easy as shelling peas.
I eventually sat down to write the novel in mid December 2012. On a whim I decided to fill in a little of my main character’s ‘back story’, his early years. As soon as I wrote ‘Colin Bailey was invisible’ everything changed. I wrote ‘The Final Straw’, all ninety five thousand words, by the end of February off the cuff, with no plan, totally by the seat of my pants and the original plot became an irrelevance; only a tiny portion of that story line remains in the book.
In fact, it got me wondering? You know the old chestnut ‘everyone has a book in them’. It was as if that first line, once I’d hit on it, was the key to unlock MY book. Perhaps it’s true; we do all have a book in us, pre-programmed in. We just have to find the password. Spooky, isn’t it?