Plunder stories from real life

I’m posting some stories from various of my books – stories about real people in history, all connected to Liverpool, since that’s what I was writing about for eight years. Amazing true tales about extraordinary people, or people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. As far I know no books have been written about them so far, but if you’ve come across any, let me know. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing your book about one of these folk. 

These true stories can obviously prompt pure fiction, but the mix of historic fact and fiction makes for a fascinating read. I’m in the middle of Iain Pears‘s book Stone’s Fall, which is all about capitalism, secret politics, and global industry set just before the First World War – a brilliant read even for someone who knows little and cares less about war, banking and politics; the industrialist John Stone reminds one of several possible models, and althogh I don’t know enough history to recognise which names and plot points are genuine, I assume that Pears’s research has been deep and broad.

One of my all-time favourite books is Harry Thompson‘s This Thing of Darkness, about the voyages of The Beagle and the friendship between its captain, Fitzroy, and Charles Darwin. Utterly fascinating – beautifully written, intriguing, very well researched, beguiling and touching.

A third recommendation is Anthony Quinn’s The Rescue Man, inspired by the visionary 19thC architect Peter Ellis and his revolutionary buildings Oriel Chambers and 16 Cook Street in Liverpool. Full of authentic detail, the story is nevertheless pure fiction; Ellis and his buildings are cleverly reinvented and renamed. 

Here are some unsung intrigues, scandals and anecdotes to spark your own fiction or faction. Have fun with them, and give me a nod in your acknowledgements page when it gets published – deal?

The place to get inspiration for your writing

English: Collage of photos of authors
Collage of authors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Where do you get your ideas?”

This is the question most asked of writers, at conferences, book launches, festivals – wherever authors meet would-be authors.

For those who spit out ideas without really trying, it’s a tough question to answer – the ideas just come, usually too many of them to use.

If you’re itching to have a go at a novel or a screenplay, but can’t find an idea to fire you up, it’s frustrating to be told that ideas are everywhere. But don’t be fooled by writers who tell you the ideas are flocking like ants around honey. Long-established, successful, famous authors hit blocks too. Think of the agonising pressure on a best-selling writer whose Muse has shoved off; facing the blank page when the publisher is thumping a desk shouting ‘deadline!’ and the advance has been spent already…

Blocks happen at any stage. The central idea for the new book before a word is written; part-way through the book when the story runs out of steam; a hero who won’t co-operate; no hint of an ending; a good main plot but no subplots; wooden characters; horrible dialogue… the bear pits lurk on every page.

This site is devoted to showing you how to release your imagination from its cage, unblock the flow of ideas, and touch a spark to the blue paper of your creativity.

Now the metaphors are nicely mixed, my work here is done.

Tell me what you need, what you don’t want to be told, where you’re stuck and I’ll try to address your particular problems as best I can.