Something that’s always fascinated me is where writers get the inspiration for their stories. It’s always my favourite part of interviews, when they share those little tidbits. I always remember reading an interview with one of my favourite authors, Jill Mansell. She was talking about her novel ‘A Walk in the Park’ which starts with a wedding that doesn’t go ahead. If I’ve remembered this correctly, Jill had been at a wedding and the bride hadn’t turned up which got the guests speculating. Eventually the bride showed up, all was good and the wedding went ahead. I can’t remember what the delay was – traffic perhaps – but it set the cogs whirring in Jill’s mind as to why a bride might not show at a wedding and that was the starting point for her novel. You can buy any of Jill Mansell’s books here.
I’m sure there are other readers out there who are interested in the origins of stories so, from my next release onwards, I’m going to include a new section at the back called ‘The Story Behind the Story’. Because there are seven titles already published, though, I thought I’d start a series here giving the story behind my already published stories.
It seems logical to start at the beginning so I’ll start with Searching for Steven, my debut full-length novel. I have shared this on guest blogs and possibly in the very early days of my Wordpress blog, but not on here so here we go…
In 2002, I was living in Reading working for Thames Water as a Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager. My manager often told me that my business reports read more like stories and I should write a book. I’d always enjoyed writing but had certainly never considered writing a book and, despite liking his suggestion, it wasn’t going to happen because I had absolutely no plot ideas.
A difficult relationship had thankfully come to an end earlier in the year but my ex and I were still living in the same property. It was far from ideal but we had a joint mortgage and neither of us could have afforded to pay it on our own. The house went on the market and we began living separate lives. Whilst hoping that the house would sell quickly, I knew I had some big decisions to make. Although I absolutely loved my job, I’d never really settled in Reading. I hadn’t made any friends in the area and I missed my family in the north. Did I want to stay, single and alone, in a city that didn’t feel like home?
Someone I knew presented me with a gift voucher for a telephone clairvoyant. I’d never done anything like that before and wasn’t sure, but she suggested that it might help me get some clarity on my situation. My ex was working a night shift so I knew I had the house to myself one evening and decided to make the call. I remember sitting in the dining room with a notepad and pens, dialing the number with shaky hands.
When I was put through to “my clairvoyant” and asked what I wanted to talk about, I remember saying “work and men”, determined not to give too much away. She started talking to me about work and was actually scarily accurate, telling me that I was trying to decide between staying in a well paid job or moving to the north and opening my own business. Something like that surely can’t just be a lucky guess.
We talked some more about work and then moved onto the subject of men. She told me that I’d come out of a very toxic relationship and that I was going to finally meet the man of my dreams when I moved back to the north and opened my shop. He’d be a little older than me and divorced but with no children. Oh, and did I want to know his name? He’d be called Steven.
And that was it, right there. That was my idea. What if there was a protagonist who was told that she was going to meet a man called Steven and she became obsessed with this? The more I thought about it, the more excited I got about searching for Steven, both for my personal search and as a premise for a novel. Searching for Steven? Eek! I even had a title.
I moved back home and set up a teddy bear shop called Bear’s Pad and I kept encountering Stevens. Spending a month getting the shop ready for trading, I arrived one morning to find a business card pushed through the door from a sign-maker … called Steven. And another day I received a phone call from a company whose products I wanted to stock telling me their rep was in the area and could stop by … and he was called Stephen. Therefore, in my book, when my protagonist, Sarah, meets some Stevens whilst refurbishing the florist shop her auntie gives her, this draws on my own personal experiences.
Sarah joins an internet dating website and searches solely for Stevens and, hands up, I did the same thing. As it happens, I did find the man of my dreams this way… but he wasn’t called Steven. As to whether Sarah finds her Steven… well, you’ll just have to read the book! You can buy it on Kindle download right here.
I hope you enjoyed my first story behind the story. Please feel very welcome to comment by scrolling down the page. Thank you.
Searching for Steven by Jessica Redland
What if you already know your future… but not the path to take you there?
When Sarah Peterson accepts her Auntie Kay's unexpected offer to take over her florist's shop, she's prepared for a change of job, home and lifestyle. What she isn't prepared for is the discovery of a scarily accurate clairvoyant reading that's been missing for twelve years. All her predictions have come true, except one: she's about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven. Suddenly Stevens are everywhere. Could it be the window cleaner, the rep, the manager of the coffee shop, or any of the men she's met online? On top of that, she finds herself quite attracted to a handsome web designer, but his name isn't even Steven... During this unusual search, will Sarah find her destiny?