Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a writer? Wondered where our ideas come from?
Don’t even lie. “Where do you get your ideas?” is the most common question asked of writers by interviewers and fans.
A Peek Inside is going to be just that. Every once in a while I’ll try to let you see just what goes on in this head of mine, because with my odd imagination there’s pretty much a constant show going on in there. If you’ve ever seen me just standing still and smiling, or sitting there looking at nothing when I suddenly burst into laughter… well, now you’ll know.
So. The story.
I was listening to a podcast at work today. I do that rather frequently, but this was a new one for me. I’d heard about this podcast for a while now, but not actually given it a try until just a couple of days ago. It’s called I Should Be Writing, a podcast for wannabe writers written and performed by Mur Lafferty.
Now let me be clear on this point: Mur Lafferty is a petite woman writer/editor/podcaster whom I have never actually met, though I have been hearing her voice for hours at a time over the past couple of days. I had just gotten to the old-age housing on my route (I am a mailman when I’m not writing or being a Dad) when Mur started talking about her plans to go to a convention to do (among other things) a book signing and sale. She was asking her listeners who might be in the area to stop on by, even if it was to just say hi.
Instantly my head was filled with the image of a broad-faced middle-aged man sitting behind a table covered with copies of a book. He wore a tweed cap and behind him was an easel bearing a poster-sized image of his book cover, the bottom of which said ‘Mur Lafferty’. A young couple walked up to the table in my head, both blonde, maybe early twenties. They looked at the man and his table, then at each other. The man, for his part, offered them a wide smile.
“You’re Mur Lafferty?” said the girl, obviously expecting someone else.
“Oh, aye,” Mur said, in an Irish accent so thick people walking nearby slowed down as they waded through it. “Mur Lafferty of Dublin, author. Here in the States doing a tour. Book signings and the like.”
He beamed at them.
They did the long exchanged glance thing again, and the girl shrugged. The young man, however, flicked a finger at the sign behind the unexpected Mur.
“That’s, uh, that’s kind of an unusual name, isn’t it?”
“Oh, sure and it is,” said Mur. “You’re right about that. Funny story about that, actually, sort of a family legend.”
He waved them closer as they tried to decipher his brogue. Until now the nearest either of them had ever been to a real Irishman had been a cereal commercial featuring a bunch of kids chasing a guy in a green suit.
“When I was born,” he said, the words spilling out of him at speed, “my mum wanted to name me Murry, after my father’s uncle’s nephew’s son. They all went down to the county courthouse to file the papers, but the courthouse clerk was having a bad time of it and there wasn’t a lot of money about. The typewriter ribbon the clerk was using was in bad need of replacing, but they were trying to make it last. She was in a hurry, just banging away and putting down my name when the ribbon hit a poor patch and the last three letters turned up blank. Nobody noticed until they got me home and my da pointed it out. My mum wanted to go down and have them fix it, but my da said it would cost another five punt, and at barely half a stone I wasn’t really worth it.”
He grinned up at their confused faces.
“So there. I’ve been stuck with that moniker for the past forty years because of a worn typewriter ribbon and a skinflint da.”
There was a pause for processing then the boy flicked a finger toward the sign again.
“No, actually I was talking about your last name.”
The finger swung about to indicate Mur himself, with his dark hair and olive complexion.
“I’m sorry, but you just don’t look Irish.”
“Oh, sure, but that’s because da’s last name started out as ‘Laffertini’. Funny story about that, actually…”
The scene faded away and I found myself sitting there in my mail truck with a big, stupid grin on my face. Mur Lafferty of Dublin sounded like a lot of fun, and he might wind up in a story of mine somewhere. At the moment, though, I had other stuff to deal with.
...namely the two old ladies who were standing right in front of my truck, watching me through the windshield as I grinned like a maniac. One of them was waving. I sort of got the impression she’d been waving a while, and as engrossed as I’d been in the storytelling of one Mr. Mur I just hadn’t noticed.
“Are you okay?” one of them asked through my open window as I returned the wave with a half-hearted gesture of my own.
“What’s so funny?” said the other.
I opened my mouth to answer, then thought the better of it.
I stepped out of the truck and slung the door closed behind me.
“Just a random thought.”
Talk to you later!
P.S. -- TWO bonus funny vids this week!
Video one: The book trailer for Mur Lafferty's new book, The Shambling Guide to New York City. I think I'll be getting this one.
....aaaaand if this book doesn't happen to look like your thing, doesn't interest you, well how's about this?