This is the WASTED BLOG. For my main author website, click this link.

Awards: WASTED won the Read it or Else category in the Coventry Award and was runner-up in the North East Book Award. It is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, and RED Awards.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Twice in the book we come to a knife-edge situation and I write two versions, tossing the coin as to which way the story goes.

One of them involves the famous pigeon scene and a car that crashes... or doesn't.

In the other one, Jess and Jack are in a night-club. It's their first date and they're not really concentrating on what they should be concentrating on - such as, could someone be about to spike their drink??? Someone with a real motive to do harm.

In this version, another girl, Marianne, gets past the bouncers into the bar. She gets chatting to Jess and Jack's friends, Chris and Ella, so they don't see Jess's drink being spiked and don't warn her.

In this version, the bouncer is distracted and decides not to let Marianne in. (She's under age). So Chris and Ella are not distracted and they DO see Jess's drink being spiked, so they warn her.

Then, I tossed a coin and one of those becomes reality in the book and the other vanishes.

Now, I'd like YOU to toss a coin. Be careful: you could change Jack and Jess's life. You have to go with the result. I wonder if you get the same result as I did? (You'll have to read the book to find out, because I can't spoil it for you now!)

When you read the book and discover what happens in my version, I'd like you to think about how the story might have gone if I'd got the opposite result. If you were the author, how would you have taken the story forward?

Even if you haven't read it yet, you could still toss a coin and write the night-club / drink-spiking scene as YOU imagine it.

Anyway, back to the story: Jess's future depends on whether that bouncer lets Marianne in. I thought you'd like to read the bit where he is trying to decide:
"So he flicks through the pages to find one with tourist stamps. There are a lot of stamps – this is a girl who has travelled. Or, if it’s not hers, the owner of the passport has. He can probably catch her out. On the other hand, can he be bothered? He’s turned away a load of people that night, done his job.
No, he will – he’ll trap her. Might as well. He opens his mouth to ask her the first question. But at that very moment there is a noise over her shoulder and he looks up. It’s a group of boys, rich kids, noisily pushing into the queue. They could be about to cause trouble. The other people in the queue are not happy. His colleague has just gone to the toilet, so he’s on his own. For a moment, he hesitates. It could go either way.

But you can’t hesitate long in a job like this. You have to make snap decisions.

He decides.
Well, I won't spoil it by telling you whether Jess drinks the spiked drink or not, but you can think about what might have been going through my mind as I tossed the coin. The differences for my story. What I'd have to deal with. And if, as I suggest at the beginning of the book, any god would either play dice or watch the game and laugh, is that maybe what authors do as they write stories? Are we playing god? Are we laughing? Or do we actually find ourselves deeply involved and not at all in control? Do the characters and events in our stories actually control us?

My short answer is: yes to all of that.

WASTED BLOG TOUR: WHERE AM I TODAY? Over at Once Upon a Bookcase with lovely Jo. head over there and join us!

And in real life, I'm back at home, catching up on a million emails and comments. 


Catherine Hughes said...

That was the one of the very best bits of the book!

I still sometimes wonder what might have happened if things had gone a different way and I know my daughter pondered the same thing for ages - becauzse she kept asking me about it!

I shall ask her if she would like to enter the flash fiction competition - I keep forgetting!

Cat x

Laura Marcella said...

Asking us to consider how your novel would've gone either way reminds me of those Choose Your Own Adventure books! That's kind of like how it is, except you ultimately chose each of the characters' decisions, lol.

Hope you're having a fabulous tour and have a wonderful Mother's Day!!!

catdownunder said...

This makes my fur go prickly...I want to sneak away backwards so I do not have to turn my back...which is difficult for a cat.