Interview with Jeannie about her short story And Her Mother Came Too
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this until you have read the FREE short story.
I hope you have now read the first FREE short story, And Her Mother Came Too, and enjoyed it. Here is an interview with a friend, SARAH, about how I came to write it.
SARAH: Where did your ideas come from to write And Her Mother Came Too?
JEANNIE: Well, for a start the setting is a Northamptonshire village, one similar to the village where I was brought up. There was always a lot of gossip – people talking about other residents – sometimes based on truth, sometimes not. The three elderly crones in the story act as chorus and give us an idea of what it’s like living in such a village. I once had a boyfriend whose old Austin was discovered under a tree in a field one morning. Gossip had it that he’d been drunk the night before and had careered into the field. The truth was very different. He’d driven the car into the field – with permission from the farmer – and placed it under the tree so that he could suspend a block and tackle from the branch to remove and replace the engine. My boyfriend and I were amused and couldn’t stop giggling. My mother was none too pleased with the slur that her prospective son-in-law was a drunk.
SARAH: Which brings us to your mother. Was the mother in the story based on her?
JEANNIE: No, of course not. No character is entirely just one person, but certain aspects of her personality may have inspired me. I have to admit my mother was rather bossy. She held definite opinions. She didn’t think she was right. She knew she was right. When I married my boyfriend I became aware that I’d passed from one person who was sure she was right to another who was just as convinced that he was. It took me a long time to break free from both these influences and have faith in myself. Needless to say that marriage didn’t work out. I’m luckier this time round with Tony.
SARAH: What made you write a ghost story?
JEANNIE: Oddly enough, when I started to write this story I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. I’m a “pantster”, the kind of writer who likes to fly by the seat of her pants. I don’t like to over plan, otherwise I lose interest. My creativity develops as I write. The characters, as always, were my starting point. I knew I wanted to be in Anne’s mind. She’s been dominated by her mother for so long that it is hard for her to believe she’s really dead. The “ghost” may be a figment of Anne’s imagination but the apparition is very real to her.
SARAH: Anne actually kills her mother by injecting insulin into her bloodstream when she was asleep. How did you come up with that idea?
JEANNIE: I’d read somewhere that insulin so necessary to those who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus could be fatal if injected into non-sufferers. I verified this fact from my GP.
SARAH: Wasn’t he suspicious about your motives – wondered if you were planning a murder?
JEANNIE: I don’t think so. My doctor had known me for some time and I told him I wanted to use the information in a story I was writing. The method appealed to me because of the implicit irony that the substance that helped Anne to live would kill her mother. Apparently insulin can’t be detected after death so it’s a pretty good tool for a murderer. In any case, with someone of ninety, it would be unlikely that an autopsy would be requested. So – there’s a tip for all you would be writers or murderers out there! Joke.
SARAH: Do you think that if Anne had lived longer she would have begun to enjoy the rest of her life, doing the things she’d always wanted to do?
JEANNIE: There are hints in the story such as her half-hearted response to her daughter’s invitation to stay with her in London that she would have been unlikely to take on many new challenges. She would probably use Brian’s inertia as an excuse. The appearance of her resurrected mother after Anne has drunk a couple of gin and tonics saves her from making any decisions.
SARAH: If readers enjoyed this story, which of your books would you recommend them to read next?
JEANNIE: I think my novel, DEVIL FACE, would be the ideal follow up. It’s not a ghost story but it does have a suggestion of the supernatural. Like And her Mother Came too, it’s a psychological story dealing with dysfunctional relationships.
SARAH: Is DEVIL FACE set in a village too?
JEANNIE: No. It’s set in Brixton, London, in the 1980s.
SARAH: Why did you choose to set it there?
JEANNIE: It’s a place that seemed to fit the characters. And again it’s a place I know something about. I worked there for a time in the mid eighties in an Estate Agency on Brixton Hill and found the eclectic mix of people fascinating – fertile fodder for a writer! The protagonist, Melinda, a young woman with a “face only the Devil could love” has spent most her life being stared at and rejected as an oddity. She now finds that in Brixton she can live without standing out from the crowd. At least for a while.
SARAH: Ooh no spoilers please. I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for talking to me. When I’ve read it I’d like to come back and talk to you about it.
JEANNIE: That would be great. I look forward to hearing what you think about it.