FIX ME. DRAW ME WHOLE. COLOUR ME IN.
Nineteen-year-old actor Arlo likes nothing more than howling across the skyline with best friend Luke from the roof of their apartment.
But when something irreparable happens and familiar black weeds start to crawl inside him, Arlo flees to the other side of the world, taking only a sketchbook full of maps.
With its steaming soup and neon lights, this new place is both comforting and isolating.
There, Arlo meets fellow traveller Mizuki. Something about her feels more like home than he's felt in a while. But what is Mizuki searching for?
HOW FAR CAN YOU OUTRUN YOURSELF . . .
BEFORE YOU LOSE YOUR WAY BACK?
Guest post from Lydia Ruffles!
Readers often ask authors where we get our ideas from and my answer is always that ideas are everywhere. I collect images, songs, art, things I overhear on buses, basically anything that could help build a book.
Here are some of the things that inspired my new novel Colour Me In, a story about friendship and first love, mental health and masculinity, art and adventure.
Colour Me In is about a nineteen-year-old actor called Arlo Thomas who flees to the other side of the world after a tragedy. I went to Japan for research. On my first (very jetlagged) night there, I took this photo of a wet zebra crossing with Tokyo’s neon reflected in it and it inspired a key scene where Arlo is a stranger lost in the city.
Troye Sivan lyrics
Arlo has achieved what he thought he wanted by becoming an actor but it’s left him feeling exhausted and empty. I’m a big Troye Sivan fan and played his song, EASE feat. Broods, while I was trying to capture Arlo’s frame of mind. I especially love these lyrics:
“But the truth is the stars are falling, ma
And the wolves are out c-calling, ma
And my home has never felt this far.”
Globes and maps
The only thing that Arlo takes with him on his travels is a sketchbook full of maps. He meets a young woman called Mizuki Gray and, although they’re both trying to get as lost as possible, maps and globes play an important part in their story.
For research, I watched this beautiful video about Bellerby & Co – one of only two handmade globemaking manufacturers in the world.
Ruins and abandoned places
I lived in Spain a few years ago and there was a huge derelict building on the outskirts of town, which always make me wonder what it used to be and whether anyone ever went inside. These snaps that I took of a seaside theme park out-of-season started me thinking about abandoned places again and it all filtered into Arlo and Mizuki’s adventures.
Sometimes I take myself away to a hotel for writing and thinking sessions. I was daydreaming and watching the tide creep towards this boat during one such week when the idea for another key scene came to me. No spoilers so I won’t elaborate but there’s more Colour Me In aesthetic and inspiration on this Pinterest board.
Lydia Ruffles’ second book, Colour Me In, will be published by Hodder on 9 August 2018. Her debut novel, The Taste of Blue Light, was called ‘a gripping Bell Jar-type narrative’ by the FT and ‘dark and affecting … truly unforgettable’ by Heat magazine. A reformed corporate PR, Lydia also writes and talks about creativity and mental health for media ranging from Buzzfeed to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She tweets @lydiaruffles
The year is 1350. Boy, a hunchbacked, sweet-natured goatherd, is content in his quiet country life. But when a shadowy pilgrim with a dangerous past arrives on the farm, his world is turned upside down. Secundus is a man on a mission, and upon first sight of Boy, enlists him as his servant, ripping him away from tranquillity and plunging them both into a perilous medieval treasure hunt ... but there is more to the pilgrim's quest than meets the eye.
The Real-Life Background of a Made-Up Story
The Book of Boy grew from my lifelong fascination with the Middle Ages, and stories such as The Sword in the Stone, The Maude Reed Tale, and David Macauley’s marvelous Castle. Give me men in hose, women in wimples, and dinner baked in a pie.
About a decade ago, I learned of an ancient pilgrimage route in Rome, and spent years researching it, hoping to write a book. I got to visit Rome several times, bliss, and spend my days reading about Rome, also bliss. Most importantly, I learned a great deal about medieval relics. Patrick Geary, a professor at Princeton University, wrote a superb history, Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Middle Ages, describing how common it was for people to steal – and brag about! and sell! – the bones of saints. So when the pilgrimage-in-Rome book fell through, I started pondering relic theft, which is patently enthralling, and how to turn this thieving into a story.
Because I am a ghoul, I’ve also always been fascinated by the plague. And thanks to my pilgrimage research, I knew about “Holy Years” when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims journeyed to Rome for extra blessings. Thus my selection of the date 1350, a Holy Year just after the Black Death. The city of Rome had recently been leveled by a major earthquake plus a civil war, and France and England were locked in the Hundred Years’ War. All in all a pretty grim moment. But Boy, the wonderful wide-eyed hero of The Book of Boy, doesn’t see the grimness; he’s just thrilled with the adventure. As was I! As is, I hope, every reader.
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is out now, priced £6.99. Find out more and read the first chapter here.
Catherine Gilbert Murdock grew up in Connecticut, USA. She spent several years working as a screenwriter and has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of several children’s novels in the USA and The Book of Boy is her first to be published in the UK.
Nina's mother always told her that love there's no such thing as unconditional love. Now Nina will do anything for the boy she loves, to prove she's worthy of him. But when he breaks up with her, Nina is lost. What is she, if not a girlfriend? Broken-hearted, Nina tries to figure out what the conditions of love are, and what she's really made of.
A powerful and unflinching novel that explores what young women really think and feel about relationships, What Girls Are Made Of is for anyone who has ever had to pick up the pieces of their heart and rebuild it.