This book started as a short story with a completely different tone and ending. I wanted to write something dark and unexpected involving the theme of “food equals love.” I wrote the story, it went nowhere, and it was retired to my files. The years passed.
I finally decided that I wanted to try writing fiction again. Terrified, I decided to take a class with Linda Schreyer. On the first day she had us fill out a questionnaire about what we were working on at the moment, with specific questions about the characters, reason for writing, etc. Since I wasn’t actually writing anything at the time, I just dredged up something from the cobwebbed recesses of my memory so that I could complete the exercise. Thus Size Matters was born. The only things I kept from the short story were the characters names, John Frederick’s size, love of food, and a few of his idiosyncrasies. I also kept the overarching theme of “food equals love” and how that affects relationships. .
Linda and my fellow workshop and retreat writers continued to provide inspiration and suggestions throughout the several years it took to complete this process.
Another inspiration, but in a rather upside down way, was the movie The Ruling Class in which a delightfully delusional heir to an earldom, played by Peter O’ Toole, had to be made “normal” so he could inherit the title. The result of this imposed conditioning was to turn him into a miserable sadistic egotist. I wanted to write a book in which a happily eccentric hero could succeed at life without having to give up his quirks, and where the practical isn’t always the best solution.
John Frederick takes a Hike where the main character outfits himself for this arduous trek which turns out to be a trip down a hallway. Also, I like The Grandfather Tree where Lexie gets in touch with her inner strength while lying among the leaves underneath her favorite tree.
Actually they were all a challenge. John Frederick was a challenge because I had to take someone who was completely outside the norm, i.e. grotesquely fat, and make him appealing and sympathetic. With Caleb, a secondary character, the challenge was making him very attractive yet with a flaw that would keep him likeable but which would still rule him out as a love interest in Lexie’s eyes.
I spend a lot of time lying down or sitting with my eyes closed visualizing my characters and what they might be doing in a given situation. I tend to create individual scenes or moments and then see how they relate to each other after the fact, although sometimes I do know that I need to come up with something specific to fill in a hole. Then later I will write it all down in long hand on lined paper, sometimes with a pencil or with a smooth flowing pen. Finally I put everything into Word on my PC, usually doing some editing as I go. I do eventually put together a timeline so I know what goes where and what needs to happen so that things make sense.
I gather you mean other than a reading lamp and a clock radio. There are usually at least two books, one that is more serious and one that is pure escapist reading, like a good mystery, science fiction, etc. We won’t discuss what’s in the drawer.