By Anna Bell
The number one question that people ask me about my books is whether they are based on real life, and whilst things do inspire me, the majority of my novels are pure fiction. However, I was recently so moved by one of my friend’s stories that it has inspired me to write a book about it. The only thing stopping me from starting it was asking that friend’s permission.
It seems to be a common thing now when friends are regaling me with stories about their love lives, or even the love lives of their friends and family, that they tell me I could write a book about it. But I wonder what those people would actually do if I did decide to write their story. Are they serious? Would they be pleased? Usually they are the funny moments in their lives that they want to share. How would my friend deal with me asking to write a story of theirs that was sad?
When I decided I wanted to write my friend’s story I was really nervous about broaching the subject with him. It centres around the relationship with his daughter and it’s a really emotional and sensitive topic, and I wondered if I was crossing a line writing about it. I knew that I had to ask him before I started writing, and when I met up with him recently it was the perfect opportunity to ask.
The meet up was terrible. I was woefully distracted, unable to concentrate on what he had to say as I was so worried when I’d ask him that he’d say no. And then I was in a dilemma. The story was already under my skin and not only that, I’d pitched it to my agent and she agreed that it would make a good book. When he asked me what I was working on at the moment, it gave me the perfect opening. “Funny you should say that,” I said, almost choking on my words. “It’s not really your story,” I said as a precursor. “I mean the main character’s not based on you. It’s a rom-com after all and the male lead is definitely not you.” I thought this reassurance was going to help my pitch. Somehow it made it better that I just wanted to write about his situation, rather than him. I hurriedly filled in the blanks telling him the twists and turns of the plot and after a minute or two he nodded and smiled before giving me his blessing.
After breathing a huge sigh of relief and reassuring him that I was going to handle the topic in the sensitive manner it deserved, it began to hit me what I was doing. I was about to take on a subject close to a good friend’s heart, and I hoped I would be able to do it justice. My friend not only agreed it would make a good novel, but he also said that he’d help advise me with my research and provide little anecdotes connected to the situation to make it realistic.
I wish I could share with you more about the subject of the book as it’s so interesting, but right now it’s top secret. But luckily, with my friend’s blessing, you might be a step closer to reading it!
Have you ever used a friend’s story for inspiration? Have they ever said no when you’ve asked permission?