My Books: Night Bus' Ten Unusual Influences

My latest short story - and the introduction to my next collection, A to Z: Short Stories Inspired by London -  Night Bus is out now, priced just 99p / $0.99 / €0.99.

Night Bus is the story of Tilde O'Hara a woman living in London. It's about having cats that don't like you. It's about having a friend who'll fetch groceries for you. It's about living in a "maisonette" (that's really a bed-sit) on a road called a "mews", and why that's so fantastic. It's about having a favourite bus route. It's about how we think about dreams and how we react to them. It's about loneliness, love and hope.

And it's about the weird things that happen when you get the night bus in London.

It took an embarrassingly long time to write (or rather to edit) but such is the nature of writing. Sometimes it clicks in days, and other times in takes months for it to even get close to making a clicking sound and even then it's a little muffled. The strange thing is, I wouldn't want it any other way.

Let me know what you think of the story! (And you can leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon )

As I was talking about the story to a friend of mine I realised how many strange things had influenced Night Bus. Here they are in an equally random and strange order.

1. Twin Peaks

I watched Twin Peaks for the first time last summer and what a breath of fresh air it was. Which is saying something because it's actually 25 years old. I thought I enjoyed it so much because it's so weird and wacky and because I found it easy to switch off while watching it. In other words, I didn't feel inspired by the storytelling and didn't feel occasionally compelled to write down notes while I was watching it (something I have done while watching Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Wire). And yet, before I knew it, several months later I am writing a short story about strange dreams and bizarre coincidences. I may not be wrong in saying I was just days away from naming somebody Diane and having my main character live in a house called White Lodge.

2. Sleeping on my own.

Last year NewMan had an operation on his shoulder and for much of April and May we slept in separate beds or him in the bed and me on the sofa (or vice versa). It was what we both wanted . I was petrified of nudging his bad arm and he was much more comfortable when he could relax and sleep uninterrupted (i.e. not get woken up by me). This has nothing to do with Night Bus, but it reminded me how much I take being with a partner now for granted; and this does have something to do with Night Bus. Weirdly though, I got very used to sleeping on my own, very quickly and when his arm was better I did struggle to adjust back to "co-sleeping". I'll be honest and say I still really, really like sleeping on my own. And this is okay. It's okay to like being on your own and yet we're very quick to think it's not.

3. Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street

Well, what else was I going to call two male cats with intimacy issues?

4. Scarlett O'Hara

As a child I loved watching Gone With The Wind (as a young adult, I love reading the book) and I've always battled with loving-hating the deeply flawed but deeply courageous Scarlett O'Hara. Regardless, there's no denying she's a tough cookie, so I stole her surname for my main character.

5. My research of literary agents.

This time last year I was doing lots of research into literary agents to see if I should consider going the traditional publishing route with my collections of short stories. (The fact that I have self-published should give away the answer!) As I pulled up profiles and bios and photos of countless literary agents - the vast majority women, I must add - I found it all a little impersonal as I entered their names in a spreadsheet. I started to wonder about the people and the personalities rather than their professional opinion of my work. A few months later when I had to give my main character a profession, my first thought was to make her a literary agent and I'm glad I did; they feel much more human now.

6. The fancy food NewMan's mum gives her dogs.

Seriously. They eat better than us. This always makes me smile and I've never forgotten it. Into a book it goes!

7. Four years living in Shepherd's Bush.

Falafel. Noise. The market. It's all there. And I can absolutely guarantee that this won't be the last time I write about this corner of London.

8. Archer

One of the other TV shows NewMan and I dip in and out of is Archer, a cartoon series about secret agents VERY much catered for adults. One of my favourite characters is Ray Gillette and one of his catchphrases is "Dukes!" so I stole this saying and made it the surname of one of the characters in Night Bus. I really hope you didn't expect more from me when it comes to naming my characters.

9. Notebooks

I'm a notorious notebook-filler and I love the sight, feel and sound of a full notebook. I'm not sure how this made it into my story but I'm not surprised it did.

10. The number 94 night bus and an old woman I met on there one night.

If you want to understand the significance of that, you'd best read the story... And yes, the woman I met was on her way home from a casino too. When I look at this list now, I can't help but laugh. I'm not sure what the point of sharing this with you is other than to say don't underestimate the influential power of everything you fill your day with.

Buy Night Bus for just 99p/$0.99/€0.99 from Amazon now!  

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Thanks so much for your support of my books and stories!

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before putting down some roots with her Australian partner and having a baby boy in July 2015. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her son around Amsterdam.
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