Today, I have the pleasure of Miriam Wakerly’s company, who’s sharing a little about her new book, Secrets in Appley Green. Take it away, Miriam!
Reinventing the plot
It is said that the seven basic plots are: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth. So is an original novel all about character, setting, background and theme? Certainly these are vital elements, but the actual story has to bring something new – don’t you think?
That list comprises broad categories and a writer should be able to reinvent them creatively so they are fresh, intriguing – yes, unique.
Seeing the blurb of my novel, Secrets in Appley Green, you may say, ‘Oh, so a teenage girl gets pregnant in the early Sixties and it all leads to heartbreak …’. You would be right to think, hey, this has been done a thousand times before. But I would bet anything that it in its detail, sub-plots and final resolution, this basic premise has never been given the same treatment. Golly, I do hope so, now I’ve said it!
Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together for ever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.
A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heart-breaking consequences.
This is Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust. Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna and Paris.
Miriam Wakerly’s Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.
Some may say that if a story claims to be unique, then it is probably a bad one, for another author would have discovered or invented it by now. But, no, I don’t think so – it is a question of using imagination and a different slant on an idea.
Well, I seem to be having some kind of slightly batty debate with myself here – but sometimes it is good to thrash these things out. What do you think?
Sometimes scenes are from the male viewpoint: Here’s an extract from Chapter 6
‘You think Appley Green village might be a good hideaway for you? Is that what’s going through your mind?’
Walter considered this. Maybe this was going through his mind, but he just hadn’t yet acknowledged it. ‘Hmm. That would be a big change from London! I may stay on a few days; my financial director can run the business without me for a while, and well, I’m a free agent these days really … is that OK with you, old bean?’ Peter hesitated, just long enough to intimate doubt. ‘If you have other plans, then just say …’
‘No. That’s the problem, Walt. I have no plans, no plans at all, and by God, I need some. I can’t promise to be very good company. That’s all.’ The fingers of his right hand were absently tapping the bar. It seemed to Walter that Peter had downed most of his pint, almost without realising it.
‘So – you’ve left teaching.’
Peter shrugged and looked away. ‘Well, hopefully not, but I have lost my job.’ He gritted his teeth, shook his head and appeared to be seething deep-down. ‘It was all so ludicrous, so unnecessary. One of those moments when you just want to turn back the clock – just five minutes – and make everything all right, back to normal.’ He paused and Walter watched his brother’s gaze turn to a middle-aged man who was lighting up his pipe with a match, puffing and puffing to get the thing going, smoke billowing into the room, just the way their father did. There were tears in his eyes. ‘Whatever I did, I don’t deserve this!’
‘Are you going to appeal?’
‘Certainly I am.’ He looked up at the ceiling and sighed. ‘I will have that whisky … but I don’t imagine it will do me any good at all.’
Compared with the worries he was shouldering, Peter’s problems seemed pretty minor. Walter tried to help assemble his brother’s case, scribbling notes on the back of an envelope, based on Peter’s account, which at first he thought was hilariously funny. He was sympathetic regarding his situation, but the event itself! He appreciated the farcical, pantomime, slapstick humour and only began listening seriously when he began to appreciate the nature of school politics.
As it became quieter in the pub, they retreated to a small table in the corner each bearing another pint. Most workers would go off in the morning with a packed lunch, but a few better-off locals came in for a lunch-time pint, perhaps a sandwich from a limited range the public house had recently started to offer, or a pickled egg, and went back to work before the pub closed at half-past two. It was nearly closing-time when a voice caught Peter’s attention.
‘One more for the road then,’ he called to the barman, searching deep for coins in his trouser pocket. ‘I’m celebratin’ today!’
The whiskery barman nodded. ‘What’s that then, Tommy?’
‘My girl. Nicola. Left school and got ‘erself a job. All grown up, she is.’
‘That’s good. Big step.’
‘Left a few days earlier than the missus and I thought she would – thanks to that bloody arty-farty teacher at the Grammar!’
If you’ve read this far – thank you and I do hope you enjoy the rest of the book!
A little bit about Miriam Wakerly:
A Village With “Edge” Novelist
I live in Surrey, England. The fictional village, Appley Green, where my novels are set, is very like villages nearby to my home. I launched my first novel, Gypsies Stop tHere the day after I retired, followed by No Gypsies Served two years later. Shades of Appley Green looks at a different aspect of village life in 2012 and my new novel Secrets in Appley Green goes back to 1960, looking at many Appley Green characters when they were obviously much younger!
I have had many articles and stories published over the years – now I look forward to writing more English village novels. My degree was in English, French, Sociology and Politics; the interest I have always had in social issues influences my writing, as you will see. However, I do believe books should be enjoyable and reviews show that mine are!
Links for all Miriam’s books:
Find out more about Miriam on:
Miriam’s Ramblings – http://www.miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk/
Thanks so much for sharing, Miriam. I’m loving the excerpt!
Keep safe all!
Lots of love,