Today I’m pleased to welcome Louise Beech to the blog. Louise is the author of How to be Brave and her latest novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was published by Orenda Books on 30 September 2016.
Today Louise talks about coincidence.
The Art of Coincidence
A reader of The Mountain in my Shoe – the lovely Elaine Ross, wife of infamous David F Ross – recently messaged me to say that she had just read the line, ‘coincidences mean your life is on the right path,’ and a chapter or two later when she read the time and looked up, it was actually exactly the same time. Spooky, we all (in this particular thread) said. And it is. But I love coincidences. In fiction we have to really work hard to make them work. To make them more than a cheap trick created to lazily tie together dangly strings we want neatly joined.
But in life, they simply happen. (Actually, they do in fiction, but more on that later.) And they often happen around me when I’m writing. This is why I truly believe they are more than merely coincidence. They are synchronicity, which psychiatrist Carl Jung described as an ‘acausal connecting (togetherness) principle,’ ‘meaningful coincidence,’ and ‘acausal parallelism.’ Exactly. Well, erm, almost exactly.
Just as taxi driver, Bob Fracklehurst, in my latest novel says, I think coincidences are little clues that the universe drops to let us know we’re thinking of doing the right thing. On the right path. There are numerous coincidences in The Mountain in my Shoe. Huge ones really. Ones I took quite a gamble on, and hope people accept. I accept them because I know they happen in this, our real world.
When I was writing a particular scene in the novel, a little pop-up appeared on my computer. A friend, Helen, was telling me Muhammad Ali had died. I was quite literally typing his name at that exact moment. I’m constantly typing other words that at the exact moment someone says on the radio or TV. Years ago, when I was wondering whether to write my current novel, which follows a boy in the care system, I turned on the TV with the question in my mind. A BBC documentary was on and the narrator said, ‘children in the care system need recognition.’ That was sign enough for me.
How to be Brave began in such a curious manner (a psychic told me to write what was in my head about my family history and my daughter’s health) and it was a journey of further coincidences; of random meetings with lifeboat families, on trains, via people who knew people. Lots of little coincidences led to my finally (after years and years) being published.
So they’re very special to me. Mean a great deal. So perhaps readers will understand why in The Mountain in my Shoe I gave such poetic value to them, and always will in my fiction.
About the Book
” A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself …
On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.
Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.”