Happy Saturday everyone!
Today I am delighted to welcome the lovely Louise Beech to the Earl Grey & Cupcakes, as part of her blog tour for Maria in the Moon. Have a read below as she talks about the catalyst for this book, the Hull floods of 2007.
Over to you, Louise!
Maria in the Moon actually started out as a short story. It had a different title then. It was called Hurricane Katrina, after the name Catherine takes at the flood crisis centre, and as a nod to the devastation I’d witnessed on the news two years earlier in New Orleans. The images of the wreckage following that storm stayed with me. I could hardly imagine how it must feel to lose everything. Hurricane Katrina was even published in a small ezine; one of my first publications. It was a proud moment.
A few of my novels have begun as short stories – namely How to be Brave and The Lion Tamer Who Lost (which is pencilled in for release next year). I wrote around forty short stories over a period of five years, before I had the courage to start a novel. I knew I wanted to write one. I was itching to. But as someone who never went to university, and who got pregnant while doing her A levels, I wanted to make sure I had put in the groundwork. And the short story seemed like the perfect way.
I read an article online that suggested that the short story is the art of abbreviation. I really like this. It is. In no other form do you have to more carefully pick your words, or more exactly put them together. Writing short fiction is also a great way of discovering your voice. A way of experimenting before you set off on the marathon that is the novel.
In 2007 I witnessed real-life devastation, not just on the news. Hull flooded. We lost our home, our car, and many of our belongings. I learned how it felt first-hand to experience such a thing. And it was then that I finally started the novel Maria in the Moon.
The short story it had been morphed into something much bigger. The title naturally changed with the development of the plot. What works in a 3000-word piece won’t necessarily work in a 90,000-word book. New characters wandered into the tale, subplots developed, themes flourished. It grew. And it got me through some difficult months.
Sometimes a character simply demands to have her full, 90,000-word story told. And you can’t ignore that. Catherine-Maria outgrew the limits of my short piece and filled the pages of my first novel. And it was very hard to let her go when I finished…
About the Author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.