PART 1 is not the whole story of the maturation of my verse novel.
There is another part.
The Grenfell Fire.
I had already been following the Grenfell Action Group blog before the incident happened.
Their posts had always been loud and clear.
If nothing gets done, shit’s gonna happen.
I had already started writing my book on modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
I’d gone to London to do some research. The person I was meant to be meeting couldn’t make it.
I had time on my hands, so I went to Grenfell.
A large part of me didn’t want to go. I felt a bit like a voyeur.
When I got to the train station I looked around, I couldn’t see it anywhere. I didn’t want to ask anybody either. I didn’t want to come across like some sick tourist.
I saw lots of 4 wheel drive cars, lots of glitzy shops, selling expensive bathrooms, well-heeled people carrying on as if nothing had happened. I thought I’d got the directions wrong.
Then I looked up and saw it. It’s like somebody had taken a piece of war-torn Aleppo and dropped it. It reminded me of when kids used to set fire to boxes of matches, except this was gigantic. But what struck me the most was that the street I was in was carrying on as normal.
I still couldn’t get over it on the train home.
I kept thinking of those unaccounted people, some of the bone fragments never to be identified.
The story I had already started writing was of a woman who woke up with amnesia after a car accident and spends the entire book trying to find out who she is, what her roots are, who her family are. She encountered many twists including slavery, prostitution.
The thoughts I had about Grenfell wouldn’t stay down.
What if my amnesia-affected character hadn’t had a car accident but instead had been pulled out of a fire like Grenfell?
How would the trauma affect her thoughts?
‘My Name is X’ is a magical realism verse novel rooted in resilience and mental health.
It is what it is.
It was challenging in so many different ways.
I wrote a rape scene.
I didn’t want to, but the story required it.
My verse novel is not a Grenfell story. That is not my story to tell.
I would rather the fire didn’t happen
and I would’ve been inspired by something else.