Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Small breakthrough

While working on Place of Safety, I had a problem figuring out how to work in Brendan seeing Joanna for the first time. A couple of ideas came up, but they were later than I wanted or felt was right or something. Then I realized I'd made Eamonn, Brendan's brother, too young to do what I needed him to made him and Brendan's older sister, Mairead, older...and then saw that it worked best if he saw Joanna when he turns twelve. Just beginning to really pay attention to girls.

There was a Woolworth's on Ferryquay Street within the city walls that sold not only nickel and dime stuff but also food, had a cafe, a sweets shop, and even sold records they'd produced. Since I knew he had to see her buying a copy of a record that had the Johnstons singing The Banks of Claudy, it sort of popped up and slapped me around and said, "This couldn't be more obvious."

Turns out the song was the reverse side of a 45 that was all about a song called Never Shall I Marry, and it all fell into place. It starts with Brendan being a hoarder. Money. Cookies. Things to fix. It's like he's surrounding himself with stuff to keep poverty at bay. Of course, on his birthday his mother finds a stash of his cash and takes it then punishes him by not giving him a birthday party. So his mates take him to "Woolies" to celebrate, instead...and that's when he sees Joanna and her friends, who pay him zero attention until she glances his way and smiles...and the changes in him begin.

He buys the 45, Eamonn helps him hide it...and that flows into talking about how Eamonn is aiming for university and Mairead has a job at Tilie and Henderson Shirt Factory and foreshadows so much, it's like a dam burst and flooded words across the page. Now I just need to make it smooth and historically correct. One positive thing about having lived in England and knowing a little about the school system is, I know what jargon to look for. Like Eamonn being in the Upper Sixth Form about to take his A-Levels to see if he fits right for Queens College in Belfast.

I also remembered Orange Squash...which was like Tang but from syrup instead of powder and could be mixed with fizzy water...and was really pretty disgusting. But I liked it because it was sweet and tart.

And there's the birthday cake with a coin hidden in it as it's baking, and whoever got the slice with the coin would be rich. And snappers, which were more prevalent at Christmas but fun. And paper hats.

One tick and the wall comes tumbling down...

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