Fusing life with fiction.
My debut novel The Artful, was inspired by a number of things. For starters I was heavily inspired by the classics Oliver Twist, and Robin Hood. My main characters Twist and Dodger were based on the idea of what would happen had The Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist actuallybecame close friends. Dodger would take the innocent honest Twist under his wing and show him the ways of the street. However, instead of becoming common street thieves they took on more of a Robin Hood aspect. In this grim future of New York City, the rich thrive and hide away in their tower like castles, while the poor suffer and live underground. Dodger and Twist are known for their exploits, in which they steal supplies, in particularly meds, from the rich and give them to the poor. Mixing two of my favorite literary classics together to make a post-apocalyptic story was great fun. But they only inspired the backbone of my story.
The real meat of The Artful comes from my teenage years. I drew heavily on what it was like for me growing up painfully shy and suffering with anxiety for the character of Twist, while Dodger is based on my closest friend, whose use of Paxil for his OCD and depression caused him to be very uninhibited and reckless as a side effect. I always remember one summer fondly, where we worked odd jobs for a local politician. It was a particularly hot summer, and we had to spend five to six days a week out in the scorching heat, travelling up and down the city, running errands. We were never bad kids, I would say we were very silly and mischievous; the world we lived in didn’t seem to inhabit the world everyone else did. Everything was an inside joke for us and us alone. We did what we wanted, and didn’t really care what others thought about us. We both suffered mental instabilities. But we quietly drew on each other for strength and it was that strength that made those awkward teenage years easier. That bond and the idea of close friends needing each other to get through hardship, is what The Artful is all about at heart.
Once you read The Artful you can easily see how so many things from that summer influenced the story; from the sun effecting people’s health, Dodger’s loose mouth, Twist’s anxiety, the need for medication, to the journey throughout the city. All these ideas came together, inspiration from fiction and life, as a recipe for this novel. The Artful is a book I hold very dearly because it is so much a part of me.