Futures this week welcomes back some old friends courtesy of writer John Frizell. We first met Ellie and her brother Jamie in John’s 2008 story Fashion. Since then, they have graced the pages of Futures several times as Ellie struggles to harness the wayward genius of her sibling — they’ve even found their way into the Futures 2 anthology. This week’s instalment, Perfection, is no exception — although it does find Jamie in an unusually cooperative mood. Here, John reveals what inspired the latest story in the saga of their lives.
I usually remember where the inspiration for a story has come from but it’s rare to know the exact timeline of its genesis or how long it took. Even if it is one of those stories that cooperates, and almost writes itself without the usual struggles, there is still the search for the right phrase or for the additional little twist. It’s hard to know when the process is over or how much time it actually consumed. But not for Perfection.
I caught the last 12 minutes of a Radio 4 programme about Autotune and then, a couple of hours later, set out for a midday walk on the South Downs under a clear blue sky. A mile or so into the walk, the ‘what if’, ‘suppose that’ of plot creation started bubbling up. The story assembled itself over the four-mile walk and as soon as I got home, I grabbed pen and paper and headed off to a coffee shop to write it down. That took almost two hours — longer than it had to think it up — and required another hour after dinner to type up the resulting scrawl and an hour the next day to clean up the final draft. From hearing the Radio 4 programme to the finished story was 25 hours.
Between the genesis of the story and its final form it managed to incorporate a lot of what I like: walking, singing (important disclaimer: neither I nor my friends at Lewes Operatic Society use Autotune) and messing about with electronics. No robot building though. Maybe next time …