Becoming Alice

It was supposed to be a little more straightforward than this.

Back in August, I had an Idea.

Actually, that’s simplifying it somewhat. Back in August, three ideas that had been swirling around in my head for quite some time suddenly found each other and, obviously drawing comfort from the fact they weren’t alone in the grey mist, clung together.

I poked them with a stick for a bit, like you do, and they grunted at me and told me to get out of their room. Great. Not only can I not keep control of my own ideas, but they go teenage on me. Anyway. The three ideas stuck together and became one Idea–which is where Alice came from.

It seemed an obvious choice for a name: one part Lewis Carroll to one part Resident Evil*, I couldn’t call her anything else… and besides, she didn’t seem to want to answer to anything else. I watched as–apparently without any help from me–she found her own voice, her own way of doing things, and an attitude. Sweet lord, did she pick up an attitude. I rather liked her. We rubbed along quite nicely through 80,000-odd words: I knew what she was about and where she had to go, and she knew what she wanted to do about getting there. All good. And then my mother died.

You see, here’s the thing about Alice. So much of her hinges on her relationship with her mother, who died when she was six. Quite unexpectedly, I had to finish writing her story–a story about a character still dealing with the death of her mother–while I was still grieving for my own.

That was… umm, what shall we say? Tricky? Keeping Alice in her box; keeping my own issues on the right side of the paper… screen… whatever. That was something I hadn’t counted on.

But that’s life, isn’t it? I saw something on Twitter the other day, which I now shamelessly appropriate for my own ends:

If life hands you lemons, put them in your inventory screen.

Remember that iron door, three rooms back, with the lemon-shaped keyhole.

I finished.

It gave me something to focus on, besides all the Stuff That Gets Focused On When Someone Dies. And besides, it was less than a month ago that my mother stood in her kitchen and asked me: “What are you writing that thing for, anyway?”

I wrote it because I had to. And I finished it because I had to.

I finished it because suddenly, Alice and I had a lot more in common than I thought.

(Except, if I’m honest, she’s got a much better haircut than me.)

* for which, as I discovered after my recent post, I am not alone in harbouring a secret love…



  1. I have never seen Resident Evil (I feel like it’s a film I’ll enjoy more if I watch with friends, but all my friends have seen it!) but I like the idea of the mix, from what I know. And having read the start of your book, I can see the other Alice in there, too. Nice concept.

    I can see how that would be hard with your mother. Massive kudos to you for pushing through and using that wonderful tweet for inspiration (I rather liked it, too!).

  2. All RPGs should feature fruit-shaped items!

    I remember a distinct lack of lemons in my D&D days. Although I do also remember a pair of asbestos boots which I singularly failed to pick up every time I passed them… only to be taken aback when I then stumbled into a room where the floor was on fire. Forward planning. It’s never been my strong point.

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