The other day I had an email to say that the fusty village where I’d set the action in My Memories of a Future Life was not spelled Vellonoweth but Vellanoweth.
‘No it’s not,’ I replied, thinking my correspondent had a cheek. ‘I made it up.’
‘It’s near Penzance,’ he said.
Oh dear. It was.
I honestly had no idea the place existed. My Vellonoweth, with an o, was inspired by a stand-out surname I spotted in a magazine. It embodied everything I needed for my setting - a fusty, sleepy hell full of dreary people. If I used a real town I couldn’t take it to the stifling depths I needed.
- 1 I’m sorry I gave you a terrible amateur dramatics society, which was performing a musical they’d written themselves about a lost hat.
- 2 I’m sorry I gave you so many atrocious singers and musicians and I’m sorry my narrator didn’t find that endearing.
- 3 I’m sorry your only watering hole was the Havishamesque and immense Railway Hotel with its curry-coloured carpets and paintwork like melted royal icing. In earlier drafts it was much worse so I’ve spared you a lot.
- 4 I’m sorry I gave you a dismal 1950s high street with concrete shoebox buildings.
- 5 I’m sorry I made it rain most of the time, which made the precinct even more depressing.
- 6 I’m sorry about the spiritualists.
- 7 I’m sorry no one could pick up TV or radio, except for the barmy local station in the old wartime fort which most of the time played industrial whalesong.
- 8 I’m sorry the electricity supply was as bad as the weather and the singers. But on the plus side I did give you a decommissioned nuclear power station which attracts more tourists than Glastonbury Tor and allows the locals to sell home-made radiation detection badges. See, it wasn’t all bad.
- 9 I’m sorry the people I despatched to this hell from London behaved so bizarrely and upset these good folk, who as you can see had enough to contend with.
On the other hand, as the novel is about other lives, perhaps you’ll enjoy Vellanoweth’s literary alter ego. To allow some respite, I did give you the neighbouring towns of Nowethland and Ixendon. If they really exist I’ll eat my atlas.
Yours sincerely, Roz
(Thank you for the pictures, Hydra Arts, Angelhead and Abode of Chaos)
My Memories of a Future Life is out now on Kindle. A print edition and audiobook edition are also available.
You can listen to the first four chapters for free on http://mymemoriesofafuturelife.com/2011/09/01/download-free-audio-of-the-first-4-chapters/
Roz Morris is a ghostwriter, editor and the author of Nail Your Novel - Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence. Her website is www.rozmorris.wordpress.com and she blogs at www.nailyournovel.com. You can follow her on Twitter as @Roz_Morris.