- Publisher: The Irish Times
- Published: 7th December 2016
My stories tend to change hugely between first draft and final draft. How then can you say that it’s the same story, somebody asked me once. Good question, I remember thinking. If the initial characters and plot have fled the scene by the time the story ends, have I not simply abandoned one story for another without the inconvenience of opening a new notebook? To which I can only say that as I write I am chasing a certain core feeling or hunch that builds around an image or series of images, and it is this elusive thing that I follow through various shape-shifting characters and scenarios.
The Smell of Dead Flowers, one of the longer stories in my collection, began in a Tessa Hadley workshop at West Cork Literary Festival in 2012. I was reading Tessa’s collection, Married Love, that week, also William Trevor’s After Rain, and I remember lying on the floor of my room in the Maritime Hotel, starting the story. As part of an exercise we’d been given, I had to incorporate an autobiographical element and so I chose a collection of dead butterflies I had as a child. Back in 2012, the story was called Unending Flight and the opening featured a fanlight, inspired I think by a detail on the cover of Married Love. The story had two characters: a middle-aged man called Maurice and his slightly older sister, Lou Anne.