Tag: story



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People often ask: how much does a writer put of themselves in a story?

kindle bestseller, amazon bestseller, top selling romancePerhaps it depends on what story means to you. For me, stories are a very personal thing. The first ones I ever heard were about my own family. I couldn’t have been more than four years old.

My mother, you see, was quite the storyteller. She must have been, because all these years later, I still remember the smallest details of many of her tales.

She used to tell me about her life growing up in the poorer parts of East London. She didn’t have the easiest life; she was one of nine children and her father, who I never met, was a violent alcoholic.

So although my own family are Cockneys, not Irish, much of the research for Kitty O’Kane was very familiar to me. I already knew, for instance, that the women who lived in the slums scrubbed their doorsteps every day; my mother had long ago explained to me that just because you lived in a tenement was no reason to let your standards slip.

After all, what would the neighbours say?

And it was no co-incidence that Kitty’s father was a bully and a drunk. I couldn’t have imagined him any other way, even if he only played a cameo in the book.

My mother remembered to her dying day the beatings he gave her and her siblings. In later years, she often wondered aloud why my grandmother never left him.

She seemed to forget that my gran lived in a very different time, and in a very different society. There was also a psychology to it; Gran didn’t think she deserved any better.

Kitty’s story completes the circle; it is about a woman who takes back her own life, and discovers her own sense of being worth something in a forbidding world.

Which means that although there is a lot of my mother and my grandmother in Kitty O’Kane, my own daughters are in her, too. Kitty O’Kane’s journey takes three hundred and fifty pages; in real life it took four generations.

For all the similarities, it is still fiction. My grandmother was never a maid on the Titanic, she never witnessed the Russian Revolution first hand, as Kitty did, or the Siege of Dublin. But she did see the worst of East London and she did get through the Blitz.

Her daughter, eyewitness to it all, finally recounted the stories to a wide-eyed three-year-old boy; they were tales of tough times and hard people and about finding a way to survive long enough to find love at the end of it. When he grew up, the little boy took these bits of soft fact and molded them to something solid in his imagination.

So to answer the question: how much of the writer ended up in the story?

I suppose you would have to say; in the end, quite a bit.

When fiery and idealistic Kitty O’Kane escapes the crushing poverty of Dublin’s tenements, she’s determined that no one should ever suffer like she did. As she sets out to save the world, she finds herself at the forefront of events that shaped the early twentieth century. While working as a maid, she survives the sinking of the Titanic. As a suffragette in New York’s Greenwich Village, she’s jailed for breaking storefront windows. And traveling war-torn Europe as a journalist, she’s at the Winter Palace when it’s stormed by the Bolsheviks. Ultimately she returns to her homeland to serve as a nurse in the Irish Civil War.

During Kitty’s remarkable journey, she reunites with her childhood sweetheart, Tom Doyle, but Tom doesn’t know everything about her past—a past that continues to haunt her. Will Kitty accept that before she can save everyone else, she needs to find a way to save herself? Or will the sins of her past stop her from pursuing her own happiness?

colin falconer, sleeping with the enemy, fury, jerusalem, freedom


Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

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“Tell me a story.”

Like kids all over the world, my daughters loved me reading them a story every night before they went to sleep.

At that time, in movie theatres right across the world, couples settled down with buckets of popcorn as the lights went down, thinking the very same thing.

“Tell me a story.”

Only they asked Steven Spielberg or Jonathan Demme to tell it to them.

My daughters are grown now. Jonathan Demme is gone.

But there are other daughters, other movie-goers …

When did humans first start saying: “Tell me a story” ?

The first graphic novel started with someone scrawling some figures on a cave wall thousands of years ago.

photograph: Clemens Schmillen

The actual genesis of the first audio book was the campfire; the first listeners were dressed in animal skins.

Long before human beings could even read, they were telling stories.

In the millennia since, stories have been variously carved, scratched, printed or inked onto wood or parchment, silk or bark or palm leaf, stone and clay.

These days stories – in some cases, the very same stories – are now recorded digitally, to be read or watched as moving pictures.

The medium has changed – no, it has multiplied – but whether it’s an audio-book or a play or a movie or an eBook or a hardback you can hold up to your nose and sniff for the complete sensory experience – it’s all just a way to provide the very thing that all human beings crave: narrative.

But why? Why do we all consume stories, every day, and in such prodigious quantities?

Psychologists tell us our brains are wired for story.

Even those of us who have never learned 3 Act Structure – and that’s most of the world – understand it, expect it and respond to it.

Without 3 Act Structure, Mister Darcy and Batman and Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella would not have become such a vital part of western culture. (Or in the case of Cinderella, almost EVERY culture.)

Originally, it is believed stories evolved as a way to teach younger members of a tribe notions of morality, about good and bad.

For example, a Native American tribe called the Chippewa told their ankle biters a story about an owl who snatched away naughty children if they did not behave. Most other cultures have similar Santa Claus or Bogeyman myths, with a similar theme and purpose.

But story is more, much more, than this.

Narrative became a way to look for and explore the meaning behind human existence. It is a mirror that shows us who we are, where we come from and where we belong.

We are not talking Booker Prize; we are not just talking JM Coetzee and Margaret Atwood. Narrative is story, any story.

Because telling stories is absolutely central to what it is to be human.

Some people say that Facebook, Hollywood, mobile phones and the Internet have put narrative under threat. Not a bit of it. The medium is not important. (To say otherwise will have us mourning the end of cave painting.)

It is content, not delivery, that shapes us and the culture we are a part of.

A thousand words can paint a picture.

Depending on the message, stories can be used to instil tolerance or breed hate.

For instance, do the stories we learn, the ones we carry with us, teach us to turn the other cheek or take an eye for an eye?

One theme is found in Leviticus and Exodus; the other is from Matthew’s Gospel, (the Sermon on the Mount). Both are from the Christian Bible, ‘the greatest story ever told’.

Both stories are re-told over and over today, with modern plots and themes, in a thousand ways, in plays and movies and novels.

The stories we tell ourselves reflect what we believe, but they can also persuade us to change our minds.

In the fifties and sixties John Wayne told us one story about the plains Indians of North America; more recently, Kevin Costner told us quite another story.

Stories are never just entertainment. From Cinderella to Pretty Woman, Jack and the Beanstalk to The Hunger Games, even the simplest of stories has a message. They explain the world to us; they shape our view of it.

It’s why that little voice inside us whispers to us every day.

“Tell me a story.”

That’s why, in the beginning, there was the story.

The End.



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colin falconer, bestselling author, international, historical romance, historical fiction, romance, adventure


Once Upon a Time: the power of a story


Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE IMAGE!

Imagine this, once upon a time.

You are sitting around a campfire, eating a charred brontosaurus steak. Your husband has been dragging you round by the hair all day and you have a headache.  

You’re looking forward to some down time.

caveman, cavewoman

‘Pass me 50 Shades of Grey and go catch us a stegosaurus for dinner.’

Bring on the story teller!

He starts on a new tale he calls Fifty Shades of Wooly Mammoth, about a Miss Link who ties up some Neanderthal she’s picked up and gives him a good paddling with a brontosaurus bone.

At last! You feel like you can relax.

Fast forward ten thousand years. You sit down with a good book or in front of the modern campfire storyteller – the TV or DVD – and tell yourself you are ‘switching off.’

In fact, modern science now says you are actually switching on. Continue reading

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