Closing a circle I never knew existed
Not much to write today
[I'm buried in the new novel, so staying focused in that direction]
but I thought I’d share something that came up this week, because it was one of those ‘hmmm…’ moments that just catch me by surprise every now and then.
Bit of background.
21 years ago, I got my first job as a paper-boy – many a cold morning walking the streets of Watford before the world woke up, just me, my dog Sam and the dawn. Ever since then, I’ve loved the quiet of the sleeping world, and being the only one awake and the sensation of having it all to myself
The paper-round was out of our local newsagent and, in those days, this was the equivalent of the role that petrol stations now play – a small-scale convenience store. There was a rack of paperback books in the shop and, every morning, I would stare at the books, catching the cover art, wondering what stories were living within. I’d read snippets here and there, while waiting for John to put the round together. I was particularly drawn to the dark covered books, many with shadowy figures, blood-soaked imagery – my 13 year-old self already being drawn to horror fiction – an abiding interest that, while widened, has continued to this day.
I earned around 7 pounds a week for my paper round and, as soon as I’d earned enough, I bought my first paperback novel
[or, at least, the first novel I bought independently without intervention of parents, siblings or teachers]
As I remember, I read Carrie while on a long weekend away at my aunt’s house in Suffolk. It didn’t scare me
[not like Ramsey Campbell's novels would, later in my reading]
but it did hook me into the story of this isolated girl, her horrid situation and ultimate revenge. Whether it was because I was heading into teenage years, or just because I was lucky to have chosen a master story-teller as my first ‘grown-up’ book, Stephen King quickly became one of my favourite authors.
[I always harboured a wish to kick back and have a beer with him or, at minimum, share one of the books that he unknowingly inspired - the new novel, especially, has some spiritual connection to King's novels in both location and subject matter]
I recently started reading his time-travel novel 11/22/63 – I’d held off because, as a Brit
[and a Gen X'er to boot]
I didn’t feel there’d be too much interest for me in the story of a someone travelling back to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
I was wrong, of course, and am completely enjoying the story at the moment.
And so, we come to that thing that made me go ‘hmmm…’
There I am sitting up late at night reading in bed, Jane’s next to me reading her own book, and I suddenly stop.
“Read this paragraph,” says I, and she does.
Half way through, she stops, looks at me and smiles.
“It’s a sign of something,” I say, “no idea what, but it must be something!”
Sure enough, there in the middle of a paragraph, King writes of a character meeting an untimely demise because of the actions of the protagonist. An untimely demise that happens on 6th February, 1968
Which just happens to be my birthday – i.e. the day, month and year that I was born. It was so weird to see a date I provide on tax forms, online accounts and everywhere else, now printed in plain black and white on the page.
So, I guess in that little way, some circle has been closed. I’m writing a story inspired by a writer who just wrote my birthdate in one of his most recent novels.
It’s a sign of something. No idea what, but it must be something!
Thanks for reading, you have my love.