“First, I would like to thank Olivia Coleman.”
If it sounds like I am about to launch into an Oscar acceptance speech, you would be partly right. It was Olivia Coleman’s speech that inspired my debut novel, The Keeper of Stories.
(Photo by Andrew H Walker)
As Olivia stood on the stage in Hollywood she recalled her days as a cleaner – Toilet Duck held aloft, day-dreaming of this moment, years on, when she would win an Oscar. It was at that point, I pictured a woman watching her on TV; someone whose dreams were never fulfilled. A woman about Olivia’s age, who was still cleaning other people’s toilets; who was left wondering about the life that seemed to happen to other people, but not to her. And so Janice was born.
Janice didn’t believe she had a story to tell (or certainly not one she wanted to share with others), so instead, she ended up collecting other people’s stories.
And this is what I did for a year. I asked family, friends and acquaintances about their stories, and about the extraordinary stories that they had discovered in others. I ended up with so many stories that I could not include them all in my book. Which I think goes to show that the old saying is true; Everyone has a story to tell.
So, returning to my ‘speech’; I would like to thank the people who so generously shared their stories with me. As I included them in my novel I often changed a few details, to mask whose story it was. But they will certainly recognise them. And if you read the book, I hope they will delight you as much as they did me. For I think it proves, beyond doubt, that within ordinary people’s stories, you find the extraordinary.
The Keeper of Stories will be available on audio and for download in Feb ‘22. In paperback in March ’22. Details of how to pre-order will be posted on my Home Page soon.