The Inspirational History of Our Doris

Our Doris is released in less than two weeks and I disappeared two months ago ne’er to write a blog post to explain what is going on. I’ve kept the events page updated so you can have some fun looking over that. I have been busy organising readings and interviews to discuss the book – the giveaway on Goodreads ended a few weeks back and the five winners have since received their copies.

Today, I thought I would talk about what inspired Our Doris. I’m not sure whether it is something I’ve talked about before and if I have no doubt the answer has changed because lord knows there are that many things that inspire me – as has been dually noted many times before and is something of a bone of contention with my good friend Imelda.

I know that in the past I’ve talked about how I wrote the first line in a writing burst because I had nothing to write about and used that to get me through writing bursts from that point onwards. However, after I had been writing the bursts for a while folk would ask me if I would compile them into a book because surely I had enough material .

I did.

The only problem was that I did not want to compile a lengthy amount of sections that at most only amounted to 200 words. I needed to find plots that could connect with one another and create a book that I felt represented Doris and I would like to represent me. For that I needed a plot that could last for an entire book. I knew that I was going to start the book with the first monologue, ‘Slugs’, because that was a natural start but then I needed a reason for Doris to despise slugs enough that she would set about the garden herself. Doris is very much a character who doesn’t like getting her hands dirty – not in that respect anyway.

Thankfully I have an amazing friend in the form of Margaret Holbrook who mentioned the garden safari in Poynton and with an added element of the WI I had a plot. Of course, there were a few months where I decided releasing a book on my own was too scary and stopped writing in favour of finishing the children’s book. Now, however, the book is coming out next week and people are already giving it nice reviews.

(Once again thank you to Imelda, and also thanks to Iris from Weight Watchers who had a few kind words, as relayed by my mother to myself.)

Originally, I intended to write thirteen monologues, similar to a television series with one for every month of the year. It turned out that a few of them were useless and went over old ground and thus they were cut in favour of giving the book ten monologues of excellent quality than a book with a few wishy-washy stories.

(I’m allowed to say the book’s excellent, I wrote it.)

Our Doris breaks all the rules I learned from text books and university. It’s written in what I call a conversational style that was influenced in part by listening to my family tell stories over the years and partly because of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, of which I will always be a fan.

One question I received today was, ‘How can you as a twenty-two year old write about a man who is seventy-four and his wife who is seventy-two?’ And at first I didn’t have an answer. In my work I am surrounded by people of the older persuasion and they are all fantastic. I think there’s this stereotype that once you hit a certain age that’s it, your life is spent at home watching ITV3 and eating custard creams, and yes, there is a certain amount of that in the book – simply because I do stay home and watch ITV3 and eat biscuits – but in reality your life doesn’t stop just because you’re retired. In fact, most retired people I meet find that their lives get busier once they no longer have work to go to.

I also look at Roy Clarke who began writing Last of the Summer Wine when he was thirty-three. He wrote about characters a fair bit older than himself getting up to things that would be seen as suited to younger people – and it worked – I say it worked because it is one of my favourite television shows but we’re heading into different territory.

The writing is inspired by my favourite writers as well, the writers I’ve mentioned above and Victoria Wood. There’s a great wealth of British comedy that has helped shape and inspire Our Doris and yet I feel like I brought my own thoughts and experiences to the story. Yes, I have stolen some stories from people I know, but if they notice let’s hope they don’t mention it.

I’m hoping that this blog post covers most of what I wanted to talk about today, I’m not going to promise a post in the near future because we know how that’ll go. Also I’ve not done much reading so I doubt there will be a wrap up this month. I need to find some more fantastic fiction.

Until next time, that is all.

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