Latest piece of research for the foundation fellowship: the book titled Police in Sri Lanka by Frank de Silva
Blog,  Writing

Foundation Fellowship update: a bit about Gin and Tonic

Preface: I have won the inaugural KSP-Varuna Foundation Fellowship and ahead of my first week stay at the end of May, I am trying to research and write as much of my chosen book Gin and Tonic as I can. I thought I would bring you along for the ride and hope you keep me accountable.


What have I been upto with regards to the foundation fellowship?

Today I thought I would tell you a bit about the book I want to use the foundation fellowship to work on.

When my ideas for stories come to me, they now tend to come to mind with Sri Lankan characters or settings. I don’t know whether these just the ideas that would have occurred to me anyway or if feeling like I should showcase Sri Lankan characters has influenced it.

So after I finished Sedition and I knew it was more or less done for the moment and I started looking around for an editor, I thought a lot about what was next.

I didn’t want to start writing another book right away – Sedition was on and off for 12 years while life happened but I knew that I would a) want to take a break, b) want to write another book and c) get it done faster.

I had two ideas warring in my head though. One was HIM which some of you may have already seen some of the writing for. HIM ground to a halt about several thousand words in. I don’t mean that HIM‘s plot or storyline is not a worthwhile one – it definitely is. And one day I will go ahead with writing HIM but I cannot do it right now. I need a break from it and funnily enough, the characters seem to need some time to develop more.

That may seem like a very strange thing to say – that the characters need to develop more. But I think that they do.

In the meantime, being a lover of crime fiction, I was thinking about crime fiction set in Sri Lanka. And whether it was a good idea to try my hand at a crime novel.

And then the characters of Gin and Tonic came into my head. And while thinking about them, the auntie glossary developed. And everyone I spoke about it to, loved it and loved the idea.

I will discuss the auntie glossary as it stands in the next post but for now, I want to talk about my characters a bit.


The characters

The person currently telling the story (though this might change) is the younger of two sisters. She is in her mid-teens and still in school. She is supposed to be concentrating on exams and getting into an university. She is outspoken and pretty much has no filter. And she does not suffer fools gladly. But she is willing to, on occasion, follow her older sister’s lead.

Her older sister is about 17/18 and just out of school. She is touted by others as the intelligent one and is far more quiet but both sisters are keen observers of what is happening around them.

I like to think of them as one having a charge the enemy kind of attitude while the other would prefer a sneak attack.

Their father has just died – he used to be a lawyer. Their mother, though grieving still, keeps her grief quiet and understated and very private. She tends to have a lot of secrets that even her daughters are unaware of and she is keenly aware of both their natures.

I wanted the story to open at around six months after their father died. With each of them in their own way trying to come to terms with the death.

There are a couple of other characters both involved with the police. One is a Chief Inspector who seems to know who their mother is – their paths seem to have crossed before. Another is his second in command/assistant/subordinate (I have to research titles and hierarchy) who ends up meeting the two girls.


So what have I done this week towards the foundation fellowship?

A whole lot of thinking. About how I am going to make the plot I wanted to go with work, how realistic everything is and I bought a book.

It’s Frank de Silva’s Police Role in Sri Lanka and I am hoping it will be helpful. I think the next few weeks are going to be a lot of reading, notes and thinking. I desperately do not want the plot to be a cliche at all.

I know it doesn’t seem like much but given that this plot is still working itself out in my head, it’s not that easy to start scribbling. I did try my hand at the first scene itself and got quite far but had to stop.


Want to keep up with what I am doing for the Foundation Fellowship?

If so, subscribe to the blog or join the mailing list for updates and other news.

Let me know if this helps you with your writing work. And what do you think I should do next to prepare for the fellowship? Have you ever been the receipient of one? If you have questions, advice or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is usually based in Melbourne but is currently flouncing around in Perth for a week for the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship. She will be at Melbourne's Continuum and online running a Writers' Bloc course in the coming weeks.

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