I might be waiting, but my alter ego, Heather Pardoe, has a short story out this week! Hurrah!
‘The Apple Orchard’ is in September 3rd’s ‘The People’s Friend’ here in the UK. It wasn’t my usual way of working. Usually, you write the story, and it appears with a picture. For ‘The Apple Orchard’ I was asked if I would write the story for the picture.
I happily agreed to the suggestion, as I’ve done a couple like this before and really enjoyed the challenge. I have to confess, this one was my biggest challenge yet. You see, my usual stories tend to be about families and their dilemmas, along with children and teenagers learning a little about life. Love stories are not really my territory for this particular magazine.
This picture is definitely a love story.
Which was a nice idea, but a bit out of my comfort zone, and – being human – I didn’t want to fail miserably. I would never live it down.
Okay. Panic first. Then make a strong coffee and start with what is there. In the background there is a coastline. That looked like Devon or Cornwall to me. And the apple orchard? Well that came from one tiny detail. The apple in the man’s hand. A quick stint on Google, and I found that Devon is known for its apples. So it was Devon, then.
And the rest? Well that came from the body language. From the moment of two people sharing something, something exciting, maybe life-changing.
One dog walk later (most of my stories, short and long, are brewed during the daily dog walk), and the story had fallen into place. And so I sat down, with only a modest amount of my usual procrastination, and wrote it like the true professional I am.
And here it is.
And forget the Booker (for the moment, at least, ahem), it still gives me a buzz to see myself in print and know that people – lots of people – are reading my stories.
You might say it’s not the same, because it’s not my name. But for the first two weeks of my life, Heather was my name. And Pardoe? Well, that’s my mother’s mother. The one left behind when her husband went off to Australia to find his fortune in the goldmines. One hell of a woman, by all accounts.
But that’s another story…