last updated: 5 November 2019, Charlie Alice Raya
Book 2: The things I didn’t expect to write about
I’m presently writing book 2, and I’m sometimes still surprised about the issues I didn’t expect to write about.
You might, or might not know that the Seven Years Easy Town story originated in a daydream. You could say that the book version of this daydream has more flesh while staying true to the original story.
Now, the thing is, in a daydream you often push on. You are in the moment, and you rarely look back. You can delve deeply in a daydream but you’d still not linger. When writing a book you take a lot more time on each scene, you research, rewrite and polish.
This lingering and researching has brought up a few issues I didn’t expect to write about.
Yes, let’s start with something simple. In the original story it was summer all around the globe. I knew about summer and winter times, I just hadn’t paid them any attention in the original. For the book version I had to make a few adjustments, not least because the beach holiday in Australia suddenly took place in the middle of winter …
Time zones played a small part in the original story. I love those moments when some characters just got up in one corner of the world while others are already partying at night in another.
What I hadn’t really thought about was that changing from one time zone to the other as frequently as the travelling team does must really mess with the body. I am not even sure that you could do the proposed journey in such a short period of time without being utterly exhausted.
I don’t think racism came up in the original story, except maybe in South Africa. But, while writing the book version, the issue of racism kept pushing for attention. I was rather reluctant to give the issue room. While it needs addressing, it’s not an important issue for the story, I argued with myself. But the characters in this story are important and they face racism, so I couldn’t ignore it.
When you’re daydreaming you don’t stop to do some research on a country or a country’s past. For the book version I had a closer look at the respective countries and a few historical events found their way into the story. Interestingly, both Alice and Jack are confronted with the past of their native countries: the Second World War and the British Empire.
GDR – East/West Germany
My first eleven years in East Berlin (1972-1984) are a part of my personal history I haven’t even started to process properly. Or maybe I have started now. Unexpectately, I drew on my experiences in the GDR four times in book 2, and only once in the Berlin chapter. First in South Africa where Alice is faced with the criticism that she can’t possibly understand what growing up in a hostile environment is like. Well, she can. Second on the flight to China, but I’ll keep the content of this one as a surprise. Thirdly in China where Alice discusses the question of control and draws on her experiences from school, comparing school in East Berlin to school in West Berlin.
This one is funny. I must have started the daydream either just before the Brexit vote or just after. However, Brexit didn’t have any impact on the seven year long story. I realised this when I started making the notes. The only explanation I could find was that I must have been in denial of the result. Brexit doesn’t matter much in book 2 but later in the story I might have to deal with it after all.
Sex plays a role in later parts of the series but it sort of slipped in here. For a full account of how that happened, see: ‘We need to talk about sex – How the subtitle for book 2: travelling came about’
The sex-talk brought up a lot of issues that were not part of the original story (or in some cases not this early on). It was interesting for me to see that once you allow for an open discussion about gender, our bodies, sexual preferences, relationships, violence … then there is an endless supply of discussions, questions and scenes.
I also didn’t expect that the sex discussions would indeed turn out to be crucial. Or to put it differently, when I started writing I thought it might be important, now I am sure that understanding our all sex issues is crucial for improving life on this planet. Saying that I whole-heartedly agree with Alice.
‘You know,’ Alice said, suddenly feeling sombre. ‘I wish we could just face all the sex issues and move on. There are so many things more important than our sexuality. But our sexuality fucking fucks with us.’from book 2 – part 2: travelling
The issue of marriage is part of the sex-talk and it was part of the original story, too. Even then I thought it likely that Alice would be scrutinised for not being married.
This article from The Guardian takes up the issue as well: Singled out. Why Can’t we believe unmarried childless women are happy?
Flying instead of going by train
Looking at the seven years of the story, the main characters fly quite a bit. It didn’t occur to me once that flying should be reviewed if you want to do something for the planet. Well, in the book version at least someone brings up the issue, and I am curious myself how I might change the flying habits in the future parts of the books. A few changes are already taking place in book 2 and I quite enjoyed writing them.
More about book 2 …
last updated: 21 September 2019, Charlie A Raya Book 2: The Journey Disclosed In book 2: travelling, Alice, Tom and a travelling team set out to visit nine of the sixteen international teams, and four of the nine main Hub Stations. In addition, they will meet with team members from New Zealand, officials in Beijing,…
Is facing climate change a first step towards substantial change? From where I stand, we could do with a proper rethink …
We need to talk about sex. Find out how book 2 got its subtitle.