Character Interview; Flora from ‘Letters To Eloise’

Welcome to another character interview! Today I’m chatting to the lovely Flora, from Letter To Eloise by Emily Williams.

Enjoy!

1) Do you have any negative character traits, and if so what would you say they are?

I have many! I’m an over-thinker and this makes me a daydreamer and over emotional. You’ll read this in Letters to Eloise and understand! I get irritable and short-tempered when I know I’m in the wrong and I struggle to find the words sometimes to apologise. I turn to food (not a bad thing!) when I need comfort, especially biscuits and cheeses!

2) What are your most positive traits?

Hopefully, others will think that I’m a kind and loyal friend. I am fun loving and up for trying most things, which is a useful trait when starting university as there is many social activities and events to participate in. I am hardworking and dedicated to my studies and always down the library, but for those who have read Letters to Eloise, you’ll know that sometimes studying wasn’t on the agenda when I was there! Tut tut!

3) What are your current ambitions or dreams?

I’m hoping to finish university and take up a teaching place after my maternity leave. My ambitions have been slightly put on hold, but fear not, I will get back there and complete my childhood ambition of teaching children. I do dream that one day I’ll make amends with River, but we’ll see…

4) What are you scared of?

Absolutely everything, but mainly of missing opportunities. You’ll see in Letters to Eloise why I was scared of the future and being pregnant and alone at University. I wasn’t afraid of the pregnancy and of little Eloise, the rest of the future terrified me!

5) Who is your best friend and why?

I’d have to say Brooke (otherwise she’d kill me!) but it’s a close toss up between Brian and Brooke. Brooke is loyal and there for me one hundred percent but her ways of going about things sometimes leave me stifled. Brian struggles with communicating his feelings, except in a jokey way, but he is a true friend and is always there for me.

6) What do you think true love feels like?

Like jumping between big puffy clouds. Light and effortless.

7) Do you have any secrets?

That would be telling! I’m not good at keeping secrets unless they are really important to me.

8) Do you have any regrets?

I regret the way things have been left between myself and River. I wish more than anything I’d worked harder to make it work. I’m not sure, even if I had of, whether it would have made much of a difference but I regret not trying.

9) Where would you like to be 5 years from now?

Settled, happy and with a healthy and beautiful daughter. Anything else fades into insignificance.

10) How would you like to be remembered?

For my strength and for never giving in

 

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I Am Never Just Me and I Am Never Alone

I remember standing outside school when I was about four or five, trying to understand why I was only me. Why my thoughts and feelings were limited to just mine. I looked at my friends and my mother, and stared into their eyes, and realised I could not climb into their heads and become them, I could not occupy the space behind their eyes and see the world as they did. I vividly remember thinking how amazing, strange and sad this was.

But I soon found out that this does not really apply to writers. If you are a writer, you are not limited to being just one person or living just one life. As a writer, I discovered that I was never just me, and I was also never, ever alone. When I started to write stories, they were about animals, lost and neglected, looking for love and embarking on adventures. I became them. I was them, just as much as I was Chantelle. I had to quieten them and hide them when people asked something from me. I had to climb back out of their minds and fully inhabit mine. But I would try to get away with not doing this in full. I’d be eating my dinner, sniffing the air, sure I had picked up the scent of trouble, my eyes darting from side to side, planning an escape. I wasn’t just me. And then when dinner was over, the stories would continue and I would slip back into character.

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Throughout my life, I have been all the people I have written about. I have not simply created them, written their stories and then cast them aside. It doesn’t work like that at all. These people come to me, somehow, for some reason. They start off small and grow bigger and bigger, louder, more complex, more real. They are all from me. It blows my mind. It’s like they find me and ask me to tell their story, but that’s not really it. Somehow, they come out of me, because they are me.

And then I am them. I become them in order to write their story, in order to feel what they feel, and do what they do. I don’t really know how I do this. I just think about them so much, picture them, hear them, study them. I lie awake at night, and they are there. Characters from books already written, and characters still developing in my head for future books.

Danny (The Boy With The Thorn In His Side)is still the most constant visitor because he has been in my head since I was 12. We grew up together. Me, lying in bed, watching him in my head. Hearing the words I put in his mouth, though it never felt like that, it always felt like he was the one saying them. His story is an action-packed tragedy of violence, music and friendship that plays out endlessly inside my head, even now. I lie awake and watch scenes that exist. Then I see new ones, ones that happened in his life, but never in the actual book. He’ll never go away. He is me. As are the other characters in that book. It still slightly concerns me how easy it was to climb inside the twisted mind of Lee Howard. How I was able to understand and even empathise with his warped motivations and desires.

Others come and go. Lou (The Mess Of Me) is another fairly constant visitor. This is because she is the one most based on myself, on my life and my thoughts and feelings. Her story, like mine, is not over yet, and until I get around to writing her sequel, she whispers in my ear on a regular basis. We share the same dark thoughts and our worst enemies are ourselves.

If characters are still waiting to be fully told, they will talk a lot in the day. Walking down the lane, I listen to Reuben and Chess, the characters from a YA series I am planning. They have conversations constantly. When I least expect it, they pop up and start talking or arguing. They are helping me to write the book.

The same goes for current ones, characters from my works-in-progress. I learn new things about them every day. I will be washing up or making dinner, and suddenly there they are, having a conversation that just needs to be written down. Because of these people, I am never, ever lonely. I don’t know what it feels like to be bored or alone. Because of them, I don’t know how to have just one train of thought in my head. I don’t know how to have a quiet mind.

Yet, to those that know me, I am often described as quiet.

Sometimes I think the people in my head are the best thing about being a writer. Creating worlds and weaving plots, sharing your work with readers, getting reviews, these are all fantastic, magical things, but being more than one person who is never, ever alone, has to be the best and maybe the most unexpected.

 

Eyes On Friday

Reblogging this 2-year-old post because it’s Friday and I still think ‘thank God it’s Friday!’

The Glorious Outsiders

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I said the same thing last week. Thank God it’s Friday. Can’t wait til it’s Friday. I said it last week; it’s been one of those weeks! That was because everything was broken. The oven, the washing machine, the dog. I wanted Friday and a glass of wine.

I’ve been saying it again this week. It’s been one of those weeks I am glad to see the back of. I will be glad when this week is over. Roll on Friday!

Poorly baby, poorly dog, doctor’s appointments, vets appointments. Falling behind in everything I try to do. Scrabbling for time. Existing in exhaustion. Forgotten bills. Forgotten P.E kits. Not enough time for anything.

But it will all be all right once Friday comes. We all do it don’t we? Keep our eyes on Friday, keep it in our sights. We veer around the obstacles, we duck and dive and dodge…

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The Many Wonderful Worlds of a 3 year-old

I realised today that you don’t live in the same world as the rest of us. And why should you?

Yours are so much better.

It does me good to let go of my own adulthood, of the chains of washing up and preparing meals and sweeping up dust and driving from here to there and back again. It does me good to give in to you completely.

Sometimes I view being with you as a chore. Sometimes I think, how much easier it would be to get things done alone, without a little voice chattering at my side. But that’s the adult me. That’s the tired Mum me. That’s the 39-year-old woman who wonders when she will ever stop feeling tired. That’s the woman who has been up since half five this morning and craves the odd snatched five minutes of coffee drinking and Facebook scrolling in the kitchen, out of sight…

But I need to shrug her off. I need to push her away and free myself from those weighted thoughts of shopping, and finances, and to-do lists and never enough time in the world. I need to be in the moment, in the here and the now, existing purely with you. I need to be more like you and enter your magnificent worlds more often.

Days like today remind me. Days when I give in purely and completely to you. Days when I become as you are and see the world as you do. Because you don’t just live in this world because this world, do you? You live in so many others, and there is no strain or drudgery in any of yours. One moment you are a ‘little puppy’. The next you are a burger flipping character named ‘Cooker.’ We never know who or what you will be next. My mind is fascinated by yours. What goes on in there? You are so tiny yet stuffed tight with so many stories!

Today you wanted to use bricks to make car-parks for your cars. You say ‘please, you be this one. Please, you build more par-parks.’ And I’m thinking, with a sigh, but we’ve got to take the dogs out, because we’ve already been to toddler group and had lunch, and it’s not fair to make them wait any longer. You don’t want to go, but I tempt you with a biscuit and in seconds you have your coat and shoes on and we are off.

When we get there, you want to choose the ways. You want to go the ways I don’t want to go. I slip into the usual habits. Grumbling, muttering under my breath, pulling at the dogs, snapping at them to behave, and you just want to climb on the big boulders and jump in the puddles. You want to show me a tree and ask why it has a knobbly bit on it, and it’s there and then that I swallow the exasperation and the impatience and just give in. I feel the fight and the stress seep right out of me.

Because I realise that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you choose ways that I wouldn’t or if you want to climb on rocks and through brambles. It doesn’t matter if the walk takes longer than I intended. None of it matters!

So I let you take charge. And you show me your world.

‘Don’t step on the black bits! They suck you under!’

‘This is my house. This is my fire.’

‘This is my hitting stick.’

‘This is my party.’

At this point, my heart melts entirely. Since you could string the words together, you have referred to a cluster of tree stumps as a ‘party.’ I have no idea where this comes from, but the sight of tree stumps makes you think of parties. So you show me your party, and jump from the tree stumps, then you say we have to go because everything is on fire.

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We run to the next one, further up the hill. A few weeks ago this place was a haze of purple, the heather in full bloom. Now everything is turning orange and brown. Leaves are falling and the earth is dark and wet. One of the dogs runs off and you yell;

‘That’s my dog! Where my dog going?’

So we chase after her and find another party. You make another fire. You show me your bed on the lime green moss of the forest floor. You are totally and utterly inside this world. You slip between worlds so effortlessly, so naturally. You tell me to watch out for the tripping up steps (tree roots) and we abandon the party to march further up the hill.

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I let you choose the way, and we go left, out across the flat of the hill, walking along narrow flattened paths between burnt orange heather and ferns.

‘Don’t walk on that path! Walk on this one!’

‘That one a river!’

‘That boat with tiny people on it.’

‘That tree is my house.’

‘Here you have to do a dance like this…’

‘Here, you have to do a funny walk like this.’

‘I’m the Doctor. I’m Doctor Dad. You’re Amy.’

And just like that, you create another world and invite me inside with you. You’ve got the Tardis key around your neck and your sonic screwdriver in your hand. You stomp your tiny way through ferns taller than you are. You crouch down to bypass needle sharp gorse and tell me we have to find the Tardis because the aliens are coming.

We circle around and down the hill. You pretend to die by going all stiff and then tell me you are another Doctor.

Which one? A girl or a boy?

‘A boy Doctor.’

Are you old or young?

‘I’m an old man Doctor. But if I get hurt, I be another Doctor.’

We walk on, and you never stop talking, never stop imagining. There is no such thing to you as just a tree, or just a fir-cone, or just a stick. Everything has infinite possibilities. Everything becomes a story.

We walk home, we make it back to the Tardis and your key lets us in, and then you see your bricks and cars, and instantly you are back in that game. A small part of me longs a coffee in the kitchen, checking my phone, taking a breather. But I shove that small part away briskly and firmly.

You want me. You ask for me. You require me in your games and in your many, wonderful worlds. I am honoured to be asked, and needed. For I know you won’t always want me there. And when the places you take me are so magical, they make me forget I am a grown up, they make me forget about unpaid bills and unanswered emails, how, why would I ever say no?