What this guy again? The man who spawned, ‘A Plague of Ladybirds’.
Back in April of 2010, I wrote the original version of this story. You can read it here. I love this guy, his troubles and the setting. Whilst, at the time, I hadn’t decided on the story being set in my hometown village, I used fractured parts of the location. Eventually, APOL was set in what became known as Greysham; a village geographically identical to the one from my childhood.
Additionally, ‘A Butcher’s Tale’ was devoted to being the sequel to ‘Our Frances: A Ghoul’s Tale’. A chapter where Francis grows and becomes a permanent fixture in what I hope will be the Greysham Mythos. So, in the four years since I wrote the original, I believe I’ve come a long way. I hope this is evident in the two, very different, versions of the story. There was also a lovely nostalgic feeling to returning to the human version of Francis. In this regard, I was able to load him up with emotions and motivations that continue in the novel.
I feel like I relate to this guy on those days when I feel removed from another person’s emotional situation. Sometimes empathy bridges the distance from the core of that hurt. On other days, I find myself puzzled when I feel nothing. Should I feel nothing? Intellectualising a situation can save one from all the world’s hurts, but I tell myself that I’m dead inside when it happens. Francis feels this way about his whole life…right up until after his wife’s funeral.
He gets a helping hand of course, the spores. I’ll have to check how much I wrote about the original, but this was an idea I got whilst mowing my lawn with a runny nose. Occasionally, we’ll get puff balls breaking through the lawn. I have to carefully pluck them out. This can leave me with brown, nicotine umber fingers. I’m paranoid about touching my face afterwards. …a twist of speculation gives us Francis.
A stupid format I used for this rewrite is Kubler-Ross’s stages of acceptance: DABDA. The story is broken into phases of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Denial and Acceptance. The only difference being, Francis refuses to accept that his wife is gone. The drug induced parts lean on thoughts of mindfulness. As he reawakens from his social slumber, he experiences a fascination with all things. In a longer form of the story, he may explore this further and try to encourage Henry to join him.
As I continue to be rejected by local ‘formal’ editors/mentors/assessors, my mind is moving towards another book. I have considered melding this series of back stories with chapters from APOL. The result would be novel sized renditions of each APOL chapter. I could expand on Henry, Poppy and Charles. I could break up, what is a fast paced roller coaster ride, into more leisurely novels…of weirdness. It could mean I have the outline of seven to eight books ready to go; a good decades work, at least. I would love to do a Harriet Ribbons novel!