On Saturday Bartomley, the bear, and I went to Hanley Library to pick up our certificate for being Highly Commended in the Potteries Prize Flash Fiction completion.
I took Bartomley because without him there would have been no story. Somehow, however, he managed to make it clear that the world needed a different take on bears. We already had Paddington, with his duffle coat and wellington boots and his love of marmalade sandwiches. Paddington is a very kind and gentle bear, who thinks the best of everyone, but not all bears are like that.
Bartomley has quite a different disposition. He is retiring, a little grumpy and tends to be rather isolationist. He’s not keen on people in general and children in particular. Nor does he have any relations in Peru.
He is, in fact, a totally British Bear who comes from Bromley.
And how did this bear come into my life, let alone my imagination? Bartomley was a present from a dear friend. He came, complete with a guide to bears, and the moment I saw him I had his backstory, even though that wasn’t included in the book.
It’s not often that happens, but every once in a while, something triggers a story, or even a novel. In the case of those 300 words it was a bear, while “Belvedere Crescent” my new novel, was inspired by a place.
A brief glimpse of a gloomy terrace in Clifton, one dank autumn day and I knew that one day I would have to write about what happened there. It took longer for the characters of Thea and Sadie to emerge, but once I heard their voices in my head, I started planning the novel. Two years of writing, editing, being edited, re-writing again and again and finally “Belvedere Crescent” will be published in February 2020.