Monday, February 21, 2011

This is how a novel starts

I have a once-a-day feed from Google that picks up my name on the web. Usually it's just that a library somewhere has bought my book, or one of my books is for sale on eBay, or that I'll be appearing somewhere (which I already know). Pretty standard stuff.

But today I got a terrific Google Alert via Convict Records. In September 1846, Elizabeth Partridge was one of 169 convicts transported on the Elizabeth and Henry to Australia! Now usually, that side of my family rests very peacefully in small village graveyards. They were crofters -- small farmers -- and small time merchants. I had no idea I had scurvy ancestors.

What did this Elizabeth Partridge do that got her ten years in jail, swapped off for being sent to Australia? What was it like for her once she got there?

What if....

and a seed is planted. I don't know that I would ever take this any further, but it is exhilarating to have my mind tumble in a new direction.

What kind of random things have been making you think "What if....?"


David M. Schwartz said...

Hi Elizabeth, That's a wonderful way to let your mind tumble and a wonderful idea for a novel -- or, if you could find the records (doubtful) a biography of your ancestor.
Since you asked what kinds of things make my mind ask, "What if?" I'll say that many of my own science and math picture books are based on "What if?" questions that I asked, going back to childhood: What if I could ride my bike to the Sun -- how long would it take? How about to the distant stars? What if I could ride to the end of the Universe? What would I find there? Would there be a wall with a sign: "END OF UNIVERSE--DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT"? What if I could hop like a frog? How far could I go in proportion to my own body size? What if someone filled an Olympic-size swimming pool with ice cream and I dived in--how long would it take me to eat my way through the pool? And so on. In various ways, these musings ended up becoming books. And now I ask, "What if I started another book today. What book would it be?" Time to get to work! Thanks for the inspiration!

Elizabeth Partridge said...

I love all the physical world stuff that is the what-if's for you! fantastic. So playful and ... expansive at the same time!

Hope you did start a new book right after you signed off!