My Book Corner would like to reassure our loyal and caring readers that… no author was harmed during the creation of this post with Sophie Wills, author of The Orphans of St Halibut’s.
Furthermore, we can report that the intervention ended peacefully.
This is the sworn confession of Sophie Wills, author, and thief.
It feels right to confess, and not just because MyBookCorner have staged this intervention by locking me in a basement and forcing me to do it.
My thievery started with small things. Friends’ names – Tig, Ashna… I even got permission. I was just going to borrow them. They liked the idea of being characters in The Orphans of St Halibut’s, and we agreed I’d give them back when I’d finished. But now I’m on book two and I… well, it’s basically too late to give them back.
It didn’t end there. Spending some time in North Yorkshire, I drove past a sign for Ainderby Miers and I just… took it for a villain. At that point I felt a bit shifty, so I changed the spelling slightly and told myself it was my own invention. But then I saw other villages I wanted as characters, and I grew bolder. Burton Coggles. Kirkby Fleetham. Soon my handbag was bulging with hamlets. Suburbs fell out of my pockets whenever I sat down. I began to scan maps hungrily, turning to the county of my birth, Essex, to satisfy my cravings, not just for this book, but for as-yet-unwritten ones. I grabbed Beauchamp and Berners Roding (surely feuding billionaire brothers), Shellow Bowells (henchman who scares the poop out of his victims), Ramsden Bellhouse (professional mansplainer), squirrelling them away for future use. You can’t have them. They’re mine, you hear?
Even that wasn’t enough. I began to look further afield for what I deludedly called ‘inspiration’ – my own past.
And that is how I came to my most outrageous act of kleptomania: Pamela, the grumpy, intransigent goat who features in the book. She’s real, or at least she was. I didn’t just steal her name, either – I stole her whole personality, and squashed her into the pages like a cloven-hooved pressed flower. In my defence, it was therapy. Over six years from the age of 14, when I worked at a boarding kennels, I reckon she headbutted me over 100 times.
Once, she nicked an entire day’s wages out of my back pocket (a measly tenner) and chewed it up.
Listen, it’s not that bad. You’re making it sound worse than it is – I don’t steal everything. What about my other characters, hmm? Like Bickley Brimstone – actually not Bickley, because that’s near where I live. But what about the others, eh? They’re just words I found lying around, unclaimed, on which I used my very own creative skill to put together an appropriate character name – like Ma Yeasty, the lovely but very unhygienic baker, for example – or an inappropriate one, like the horrible (and slightly dead) Miss Happyday.
You’re not going to tell me I can’t even steal from the dictionary, now.
That is literally what writers do.
You can enjoy My Book Corner’s review of Sophie Wills’ The Orphans of St Halibut’s, with illustrations by David Tazzyman, by clicking HERE.