One of my great regrets in life is that I have no artistic talent. So when I realised that Alice May, author of Accidental Damage, is both a writer and an artist I had to ask her a bit more about those roles and I’m delighted she agreed to write a guest post for Linda’s Book Bag.
Accidental Damage is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.
If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.
Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she?
Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed.
What happens when she decides to go looking for it? Does she really deserve to be whole again?
Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness!
Artist vs Author
The Similarities and Differences of the Two Creative Processes
A Guest Post by Alice May
As an exhibiting artist for over a decade before I embarked on my fledgling writing career, I hadn’t thought particularly about the similarities and differences associated with the two creative processes until Linda asked me about it. She wondered if the painting process ever informed the writing or were they two totally separate entities.
From the point of view of my first novel Accidental Damage I would have to say that art has been a massively integral part of the whole development of the main plotline. The story is written retrospectively from a mother’s point of view. She is an artist who is using her painting as a security blanket to help her work through the feelings of guilt she has about her role in events two years previously that lead to her and her family (husband and four children) suddenly becoming homeless. In a series of flashbacks we learn exactly how they became homeless and how they coped with the situation. At the same time we see the mother, in the present, reacting to each stage of the remembered story with a new piece of art.
The concept of art as a therapy for emotional and/or psychological trauma is an intrinsic part of the story.
Although Accidental Damage is mainly a work of fiction, it was inspired by true story (yes, we really did live through a home-collapse disaster) and so the artwork described in the book actually does exist. This fact significantly helped to lend the writing authenticity as there is a very deep connection between the paintings and the emotional journey that the central character takes throughout the story. It was also a nice touch to be able to use one of those pieces of art for the design of the cover for the book.
On a more theoretical level though, while the development of either a painting or a plotline seems to follow a similar path, there is not often an opportunity for one to actually overlap with the other. This is probably what made writing Accidental Damage such fun.
With the art, I frequently see ideas around me in day to day life that I know I need, but at the time I often don’t know why they are important. For example a particular shape, texture or colour combination might catch my attention. It’s a bit like discovering the pieces of a puzzle. I keep these elements on a mental mood board until I know what I want to do with them. It may be days, weeks or even months before the final piece of my little puzzle presents itself (often most unexpectedly) and then, like a catalyst, this triggers the whole concept to evolve and I find myself running to my easel to start throwing paint around. It gets messy very quickly!
In a similar manner, with my writing I find I am constantly making mental notes. Sometimes real notes too – I am often to be found scribbling frantically in a jotter in strange places. I will acquire character traits, accents, places, colours, music or events and store them away for later. At some point, over time, these different elements coalesce into the plotline and substance of the next book. It is a fascinating process and very exciting as I never quite know what is going to happen next.
In both cases, eventually the painting or the plotline that is inspiring me will take over my brain completely as the whole picture or story starts to develop. All else fades into the background until the piece in progress is finished.
The only real issue I have it with it all is the fact that I haven’t yet worked out how to paint and write at the same time. Writing about painting in Accidental Damage was probably about as close to doing that as is possible.
I guess we can’t have everything can we?
About Alice May
She says she is fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet and they live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country where her conservatory is always festooned with wet washing and her kitchen full of cake.
Alice loves listening to the radio in the mornings.