Today I have for you the lovely Catherine Bruton on the blog telling you all a little bit about endings and beginnings. This is for her final stop in the I Predict a Riot tour! I loved this book so much and it’s an honour to have Catherine on the blog for you all today! Hope that you like what she has to say and you should definitely give her book a read if you haven’t already!
Welcome to Coronation Road – a kaleidoscope of clashing cultures and parallel lives. There’s Maggie and her politician mum in their big house. There’s Tokes and his mum in a tiny bedsit, running from trouble. And there’s the ruthless Starfish gang, breeding fear through the neighbourhood.
Amateur film-maker Maggie prefers to watch life through the lens of her camera. In Tokes, she finds a great subject for her new film. And when violence erupts, led by the Starfish gang, Maggie has the perfect backdrop. But as the world explodes around her, Maggie can’t hide behind the lens anymore . . .
To mark the final leg on my blog tour, I thought I’d say a little bit about beginnings … and endings.
I’m rubbish at writing the openings of my novels. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written the beginning first. I need to know what direction the novel is going before I can write the opening lines. And I Predict a Riot was no exception.
I Predict a Riot starts at the end. It opens with Maggie the narrator telling us that she still has bad dreams, ‘Dreams of last summer – of me and Tokes and Little Pea – in the park, under the arches, racing through burning streets on the night the city was in flames. Then I wake up and I remember how the story ends.’
I even give away the final twist on page one when Maggie tells us, ‘One of my friends is dead and the other might as well be. All because of me.’ So from the first chapter, you know someone is going to die in this novel (and if you want to know more about the trauma of my first on-page murder, read my blog on ‘Killing your Darlings’) but you don’t know who, or how, or why, or when.
And I hope I’ll keep you guessing right to the very end. In fact, I hope I’ll make you fall so deeply in love with both Tokes and Little Pea, that you don’t want either to die, make you hope that Maggie might have got it wrong somehow – that things will work out OK in the end.
And the ending comes full circle. Back to the beginning again. Except that something is different. And Maggie has got something wrong. ‘Everything has changed, but nothing has changed,’ says Maggie, at the start of the opening chapter. But she’s wrong. Something isn’t finished yet.
Maggie and Tokes and Little Pea had been making a film last summer – in fact it was making the film that got them dragged into the riots, got one of Maggie’s friends killed, and the other dragged into witness protection to keep him safe from the Starfish Gang – and the film isn’t finished yet.
‘I watched it, Maggie.’
My head shoots up. ‘What?’
‘Your film. I watched it.’
I’m speechless for a moment then the anger explodes out of me. ‘You had no right to do that.’
‘I know I shouldn’t have, but I wanted to understand.’
My face is aflame. ‘It was private,’ I stammer. ‘Like a diary.’
Mum’s eyes are shining with tears. My mum who never cries. ‘Your film is beautiful, Maggie … and I know that your friend would love it.’
‘Well, he’ll never see it now, will he,’ I say, looking away before my own eyes betray me. ‘And besides, it’s not finished.’
Maggie can’t finish the film on her own – and she can’t get on with her life until it’s finished.
And then, right at the end, one of the friends Maggie thought she’d lost reappears. But which one?
‘He’s facing the sea, with his back to me. And he’s skimming pebbles. He’s grown taller. His shoulders are broader and for a second I want to turn back. I wasn’t supposed to see him again. Ever. That was the deal.’
But Maggie needs him. Because she needs an ending before she can get on with her life.
‘It’s not finished,’ I say. ‘I can’t think how to end it.’
‘I’ve got an idea,’ he says, with a faraway smile that I recognise from the boy I knew a year ago.
So there are two endings to this novel – the one Maggie thinks is the ending, and the other one, that comes as a surprise – a kiss, or a revelation, or a resurrection, or redemption? I’m not telling you. All I’ll say is that when the screen fades to black, and the words ‘The End’ appear on Maggie’s movie, I hope you’ll be sobbing your heart out.
As Maggie found, endings are harder to write than openings. I wrote the opening of this novel at four o’clock in the morning after my son had been sick in my hair. And I wrote the final chapters in the car park outside my daughter’s gymnastic club. Which goes to show that you can’t wait for ideal circumstances for inspiration to hit – you just have to write in the spare spaces of life.
And it also shows that beginnings and endings don’t always crop up where you think. So this might be the end of my blog tour – with the most massive thanks to all the incredible bloggers who have been kind enough to host me, and who keep the book conversations alive and well all year round – but I hope it’s only the beginning of the journey for I Predict a Riot. Oh dear, I’m sounding like a presenter on a reality TV show now … definitely time to bring this blog tour to an end before I disgrace myself!
So, thank you for having me!
Fade To: Black
And there you have it.
Do you think you’ll be picking up I Predict A Riot to read?