Josephine Myles and JL Merrow are here today to celebrate the release of the latest in their Mad About the Brit Boys series of mini-anthologies, Truly, Madly, Boys, a selection of m/m contemporary romance short stories, and are discussing how real life experiences can be turned into fiction.
Jamie: Well, they do say write what you know. And if you’ve lived something, then you can often add a feeling of reality to a fictional scene based on that experience. My favourite real-life-into-fiction experience has to be the tortoise-napping incident that turned into Tortoise Interruptus, but it’s by no means the only time I’ve used real life in my fiction. How about you, Jo?
Jo: I’ve used a fair few minor incidents–the kinds of things that have always made good tales to tell when having drinks with friends. For instance, there was the time I was covered from head to toe (literally) in seagull excrement when crossing the road. In the middle of Bath during peak tourist season, no less. Outside a busy pavement cafe. Oh, how the spectators did their best to cover their laughing as I howled “Oh no! You little bastard!” and shook my fist at the skies. At least I can laugh about it now, and that little incident ended up inspiring a whole novella, believe it or not. Merry Gentlemen wouldn’t be half the book it is without that seagull.
Are all of your real life experiences that made it into fiction funny ones?
Jamie: Oh, by no means. Life isn’t always a laugh riot, but even bad situations can make good fiction. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be the one thinking “hey, I bet I can get a really good plot out of this!” 😉
One experience I didn’t enjoy too much at the time was an attack of claustrophobia when I went pot-holing down Gaping Gill in Yorkshire. I hadn’t even realised I was claustrophobic until I was inching my way along a narrow channel on my stomach in the pitch black with thousands of tons of rock over my head! That one made it into an f/f story, Soft Hands and Hard Hats – and part of the reason it did so was the strangely warming feeling of intimacy you get down there in the dark with people you’ve only just met (and who have seen you hyperventilate!)
How about you, Jo? Any bad experiences made it into print? Or would you prefer not to point out which ones actually happened to you? 😉
Jo: To be honest, I thought the seagull poop incident was pretty awful at the time! But if you’re asking about collapsing spanking benches and the like, no comment 😛
I think writers do end up mining the depths of their experiences for fiction, and in some ways it helps me when going through a difficult time to think I’ll get a good story out of it. I did use some of my past experiences of living with an addict (albeit not a heroin addict) when writing about Dare’s family in Scrap, and having recently gone through a divorce I also used those experiences to flesh out Grant’s side of the story. In some ways it’s one of my darker books in that it deals with some serious themes, but at the same time I hope there’s plenty of fun and smut to lighten the read. After all, if you can’t laugh in the face of tragedy then when can you laugh? (no, don’t answer that!)
But I prefer to focus on the awkward and humorous little incidents and eccentric characters I meet, such as the caretaker in my daughter’s old school who seems like he’s strolled right off the pages of a story. Have you recently encountered anyone who deserved to be immortalised in fiction?
Jamie: Well, there’s my neighbour, whom I last saw out in the middle of a rainstorm, singing and dancing with a broom, or the usher at the cinema last night who took his job way too seriously… Yeah, interesting people are everywhere! 🙂
Readers, have you ever had anything happen to you that deserves to be turned into fiction? Or do you know someone who seems to have strolled off the pages of a book?
About the Book
Love—the most intense connection.
The challenge of finding love in the world today can take many forms, but at its heart love is the same: it’s all about forging a connection with another person. Experience romance at its most relatable in these four contemporary stories of male-male love with a British flavour from award-winning authors Josephine Myles and JL Merrow.
In these stories you’ll find out how to communicate without words, be teased by a memory that’s just out of reach, flash back to young love and emerging sexuality, and discover how opposites can attract when you meet a stranger in a strange land.
These stories have all been previously published, but are now available exclusively in this anthology.
Available exclusively at Amazon