I’ve been asked by some inquisitive readers why my novella Shattered Roses tells Rose’s fragmented story. And why this old lady’s story is told through the eyes of 16-year-old Megan?
To answer this question requires talking about the writing process. It can be so much fun to explore new ways of writing — essentially to see if they work. I’m happy with the final effect. Perhaps you’ve read Shattered Roses and disagree. The story came to me in scenes, skipping about with each blink of my eye. I was writing something, but I didn’t know what. I was channelling some confusing emotions at the time, and it was fighting its way out of me. I’d also been thinking about time and whether it was a straight line, a ball of string, or more of a Jeremy Bearimy Timeline (A Good Place reference).
We place structure and meaning on our lives, but who’s to say that our daily lives aren’t more fluid and mysterious … From these initial scenes I began to imagine Rose in a nursing home telling her version of Beauty and the Beast. One of my favourite fairy tales as a child, and, incidentally, (my mum being a carer) I also grew up around nursing homes. It’s not a setting I come across much when reading. Yet one I know by its smell and by its touch.
So far I only had the middle of my story. Megan became my start as she attends an interview for a Saturday job. At first, Megan featured infrequently. I added her only to frame Rose’s story, to force it into a more munchable narrative. One with hints of Scheherazade, here and there. I soon realised that the book was more about Megan’s story. While it is also an uncovering of Rose’s relationship with “the beast”. I began to focus more on revealing Megan’s life to her. The mysteries of her own life she couldn’t see. At an age where we struggle to find our place in the world.
I also stuck to a novella format to leave gaps purposefully in the story. Yes, I know, I know, sorry! I did it for you, inquisitive reader, to fill, or ponder over, the information I left out. In this way, the book requires a smidge of work on the reader’s imagination. I mean, since you’ll be imaging the whole thing anyway … see what I mean? You can draw your own conclusions about the boundaries between reality and fiction. I know that I would choose to believe in magic every time.
I hope you understand these intentions, for whatever English Crit. Lit. says author intentions aren’t dead. It’s up to you if you wish to carry a fragment of Megan and Rose’s story into your lives… such is the magic of storytelling.
Oh, yes, storytelling, a theme I’ll return to in the book following A Friendship of Thistles (my current project).
There’s much I could say about storytelling outside my book Young people, learning & storytelling, instead, I’ll leave you with an invitation (if I may). To dip your toes into Shattered Roses to explore the tip of the iceberg of numerous retellings of Beauty and the Beast. A story which captures our hearts time and time again.