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