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Professional picnicking

The launch of Unusual Places

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about some of the unusual places where I wrote my short story collection. I’ve also been to visit some of them to take pictures and to abandon copies of the books for people to find. Next up: unusual place number four – the first story in the collection.

Front cover of Unusual Places

Where’s the heatwave gone?

A few short weeks ago we were in the middle of a heatwave in the UK and my family and I were going down to the beach regularly to cool off in the sea and to have a picnic. We went to the beach again recently and it was transformed – the sea was grey, the beach windswept, there were no crowds. Now, I’m still hoping to get in another sea swim on my birthday – which is later this month, so I’m banking on the sun coming out again, and the sea being warmish, but I doubt I’ll be having a picnic.

Professional picnicking

Why am I telling you all this? Because I like to write short stories on location, and once I took a picnic with me in a bid to save money – I had turned up in a North London park to write close to where my dad’s side of the family lived for three generations – but it was way too cold to write; I couldn’t even stay there for long enough to eat a sandwich. I ended up making some notes then going home and writing about someone who has picnics for a living. It’s now the first story in Unusual Places, and one of my favourites. This is one reason why, if you’re going to write on location, you should find locations with nice friendly cafes nearby!

The power of a blue plastic bag

I grew up by the seaside – a little bit further along the coast from here – in Bournemouth. We went for an evening stroll on the beach there when we were visiting my mum recently and we got a real shock. People had left behind bags overflowing with litter, and loads of it was blowing along the beach. I couldn’t believe people would do that – so seeing it in real life was horrible, but in my story about the professional picnicker I make a blue plastic bag flying around in the wind – basically a piece of trash – affect people’s lives somehow, which was really good fun to write, because I could make the bag go anywhere.


Seagulls – and a big thank you

The other, more immediate danger round here when you have a picnic is of the white and grey / sharp-beaked variety. Seagulls. They nest on our roof. They break open bin bags if they get the chance. They swoop on picnickers. So storytelling and picnicking probably don’t mix, other than in the imagination. The seagulls would make me nervous about writing while having a picnic on our local beach –– but not nearly so nervous as I’ve been about launching my new book! I appreciate your support.

Where next?

You can read about the writing technique I used in Unusual Places here.

You can see a list of all the posts in this series.

Or you can click the button to get a free story from the book.




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