I am delighted to welcome Guy Jones to the blog today with a special guest post about the inspiration behind his debut novel, ‘The Ice Garden.’
In the beautiful story he explores the wonder in both the ordinary and extraordinary,
as Jess steps into an enchanting icy realm where all is not as it seems …
Jess is allergic to the sun. She lives in a world of shadows and hospital appointments, peeking at the other children in the playground behind her curtained house. Except for a boy at hospital – a boy in a coma, to whom she tells stories – Jess has no friends her own age. One night, she sneaks out, exploring the empty playground she’s longed to visit. Beyond, she discovers a beautiful impossibility: a magical garden wrought of ice. But Jess isn’t alone in this fragile, in-between place …
I’m really intrigued to find out more, so without further ado I will pass you over to Guy Jones…..
The Inspiration Behind ‘The Ice Garden’ – Guy Jones
This blog is supposed to be about the inspiration for my first book, The Ice Garden. But actually, I think it will be more about process. You see, inspiration is a tricky concept. The word implies a single moment of revelation, like sunbeams bursting through cloud. The truth though is somewhat different. Inspiration, for me at least, is more similar to stepping stones leading out across a misty lake. You can only see as far as the next one and while each hop gets you closer to the other side, it’s taken in the full knowledge that you could slip and fall.
The first hop in the journey of The Ice Garden was taken by accident. I had been asked to write a one page synopsis of the book I was working on by the following day. One problem though – I wasn’t working on a book. Six o’clock in the morning, computer on my lap, desperately searching for an idea, and then an image popped into my head. A garden not covered in ice, but made of it. And a girl who wasn’t the same as most children, sitting there under a purple sky. It didn’t come from anything I’d seen or read, or at least not consciously. It was simply an idea – pure and unburdened, for the moment, by the need to turn it into an actual story.
So far, so good then. But some questions posed themselves. Most pressingly – what was different about the girl? I knew that there were certain illnesses which made people sensitive to sunlight and started to read medical articles in this area. Soon, I came across the condition of Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP). I was staggered. It seemed so cruel and unfair. Suddenly I was rooting for Jess (finding the right name another mini-stepping stone in its own right), but more importantly I understood what the book was going to be about.
From there came more hops. Moving in with my now-wife and stepdaughter gave me an insight into their incredible bond, and that undoubtedly bled into the story. A visit to Austria told me that my characters would eventually journey into the mountains. A man seated opposite on the tube provided the template for Jess’s doctor. There were several mis-steps too. At times, I pitched over into the lake and got very wet indeed (the less said about the talking wolf the better), but each time I dragged myself back up and kept writing. Hop after hop… Little moments of inspiration; some from the world around, far more from asking ‘what if?’ and just a few from that little place of imagination we all have.
And that, I suppose, is what I mean by process.
Guy Jones was born in Botswana, grew up in Bedfordshire and now lives in
St Albans with his wife and step-daughter. He spent a decade writing for the
theatre, including the West End musical Never Forget, before finally
knuckling down to write a book. THE ICE GARDEN is his fist novel.
Thank you to Guy for his interesting guest post and to Chicken House for inviting me to host. ‘The Ice Garden’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.