Saturday, 8 July 2017

On Finding Inspiration In A Car Park - Tamsin Cooke

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Stunt Double, the fantastic new novel by Tamsin Cooke. As this guest post goes to show, you really can find inspiration anywhere!

Finding inspiration in a car park!

Inspiration can strike absolutely anywhere – in dreams, while dog walking, from music or paintings, - you name it. Inspiration can even hit you when sitting in a car at the side of the road in the middle of an industrial estate!

I knew that I wanted to start a new story and this time I wanted to have a boy as the main character. But I didn’t have a solid idea. I’d been thinking about storylines involving travel or mistaken identity.

Then one evening, feeling hot, sweaty and rather irritable (although you probably didn’t need to know that), I sat watching the door to my teenage son’s free running club. He’d been having a fantastic time - running, vaulting, somersaulting, swinging – basically doing anything he could to get from one point to another in the fastest possible way. But now he was late and in a hurry.

At last, he emerged. He ran through the car park dodging vehicles, vaulted the wall and swung over the bonnet of our car.
‘Don’t you dare!’ I shouted before he could leap straight through the back open window.
He opened the door and flopped inside.

But I didn’t turn on the engine. Instead, I froze. My son had reminded me of a stunt performer. And it occurred to me – wouldn’t that be the most amazing job for a teenager? It’s full of risk, adventure, and glamour. Suddenly I remembered the Fall Guy – a television programme I watched as a child about an undercover
stuntman who captures criminals using his skills and knowledge of stunts. I used to love it.

‘Are we going then?’ asked the impatient teenager.
Still, I didn’t move.  It was a real ‘Eureka!’ moment.

When I get an idea for a story, images fly into my head. I conjure up scenes and they play out in my brain like an act from a movie.  At that moment, although sitting in the car in the industrial estate, in my mind I could see a bridge – the sort that splits into two parts allowing a ship to go through, like Tower Bridge in London. A boy was scrambling up one of the rising wings of the bridge. Running as hard as he could, the wing rose steeper and steeper. He grabbed onto the edge and pulled himself up, until he was perched on the ridge, ready to jump across.
‘Cut’ shouted the director.
Suddenly I noticed the wires connecting his body to a crane in case he fell. And there were camera crew filming his every move.

‘Mum, are we going?’ said my son, jolting me back to reality.
‘Would you like to be a stunt performer when you’re older?’ I said, turning on the engine.
‘What are you talking about?’ he asked.
‘Never mind.’

I drove home as fast as I could (not like a stunt driver I must add!) and started Googling stuntmen.  To my dismay, I discovered stunt performers have to be over the age of 18. Arggh! Then I realized this was going to be fiction. I could make it work. Plus being a teenage stunt double was no longer just exciting, it was illegal too!

Over the next few weeks, I scoured the Internet, researching movies and stunt performers. I talked to a director and met a real life stuntwoman  - who might be one of the coolest people in the world!  Every time I learnt something knew, another new idea sparked. The more I learned, the more inspired I became.  Scenes flew into my head and I frantically scribbled down the ideas.  I am a planner. I can’t just write and let a story evolve. Soon I had the whole story mapped out.

I condensed all of my ideas into a one-page synopsis and sent it off to my agent Anne Clarke who then sent it off to my publishers. To my utter joy, Oxford University Press said YES. For those of you old enough to remember the orange juice advert on TV, I felt like the man from Delmonte had said Yes!!! Just like movies are given the green light to start filming, I was given the green light to start writing.  Stunt Double was born!

Huge thanks to Tamsin for the fabulous guest post and don't forget to check out my review of this fantastic adventure story.


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