Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
By Willie Meikle
It’s a question all writers have heard. And in the case of my latest book, The Green and The Black, I didn’t fully realize where it had come from while I was writing it. A chunk of it takes place in a Newfoundland hospital. It was only on reading it back during editing that I realized how much of a recent personal experience had seeped in to the writing.Back on Easter Saturday of 2017, my wife and I got out of bed, and she said she wasn’t feeling great. By the time we got out of the bedroom and along the landing she was teetering, and I reached her just as she fell at my feet.
She wasn’t breathing, and her eyes had gone glassy, like the dead blue eyes of a china doll. I really thought I’d lost her.
I got her rolled over and thumped her on the chest, twice, while screaming in her face. That did the trick, and her eyes fluttered, took on life and she was back, at least some of the way, although she was still not able to respond to me and couldn’t focus.
I phoned 911, an ambulance came after what seemed like an age, and some big burly chaps carted her off to our local ER, about 10 miles away. I followed, still shaking like a leaf, in the car.
To cut a long story short, and condense hours of worry into a few words, she had pulmonary embolisms in both lungs. The docs told me that 1 in 3 people who get them like that just die straight off, so we were lucky, in a way.
There followed two weeks of visiting her as she lay in a recovery ward. She was fully back and awake after a few hours, but the recovery was long as they fed her oxygen and blood thinners to try to get her lungs functioning somewhere near normal,
So that’s the background. The thing that seeped into my book wasn’t my wife’s illness though, it was the quiet professionalism, good cheer, and humanity of the medical and nursing staff, all of them heroes in my eyes.
As I read through my edits I saw that I’d captured some of that stoic quiet, and some of the atmosphere of how hospital staff go about immersing patients in an environment designed to make them calm, and give them time to heal.
There’s not much calm in the final book, but that’s not the hospital staff’s fault. The Green and the Black is something they have never seen before, something old that gets inside folks, and festers, thickens and grows.
Obviously, again, the disease in the book echoes in some ways the clots in Sue’s lungs, and again I didn’t see that until the edits. But my subconscious obviously knew what it was doing.
There was a nurse in that local hospital who sang ditties to herself as she went about her business. That too resurfaced in the book and again in a more sinister fashion, with an old children’s song I used as a recurring motif every time the supernatural made an entrance.
So I got plenty of material from that emergency. I’m hoping the next lot of ideas that hit me don’t take such a dramatic event to bring them to mind.
THE GREEN AND THE BLACK is out on Oct 9th 2018 in paperback and ebook from CROSSROAD PRESS
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than twenty five novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.
He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.
He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.
When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.
One of the premier storytellers of our time – FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND
Scotland’s Greatest Horror Writer – GINGER NUTS OF HORROR