I set myself a goal of writing at least some of the short stories for which I have ideas by the end of the year. I don’t think I will achieve the aim of writing more than one (at the risk of sounding defeatist) but in my defence, that is only because I have also been busy trying to finish the final part of my fantasy trilogy. You have probably realised by now that I sometimes find it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time – I just go where the inspiration takes me…
On that note, the one short story I have been workjng on is actually turning out not to be so short after all. But that is just how the story seems to have evolved. I have mentioned the plot before – it is about a teacher who becomes involved in the troubled life of one of his students. Putting his career and integrity at risk, he believes he can help her overcome her demons, little knowing that the secrets she keeps are more dark and dangerous than he could ever imagine.
The inspiration for the story came from various recent news articles about teachers running away with their students, leading to international man hunts and arrests for kidnapping minors. In many of these cases the teacher is painted as manipulative and seductive, making the student believe they were in love. So I began to think – whst if it was the other way around? What if the student needed an adult figure to perhaps be a scapegoat for something, or help them escape from a difficult aspect of their own past? This led me to the characters of Ben and Caroline. The reader will know that Caroline is manipulating Ben into doing what she wants, as the story is told by Ben, looking back on how naive he was, but neither he nor the reader will be 100% sure exactly why she’s doing it. What is it about her past that she is so desperate to escape from?
News stories can be a good but also strange source of inspiration – the trials and tribulations of people’s real lives can sometimes be even stranger than fiction.