The last weekend of the ski season in Europe can be fantastic for the enthusiast. Most hotels are booked Saturday to Saturday, so the last tourists have gone home and, in France at least, the locals cannot be bothered to ski that late in the season. You pretty much get the whole mountain to yourself. That was definitely the case in April 2011. Unfortunately there was another factor in play. It had barely snowed since January and the pistes were empty of people… and snow. The lifts had closed and there was nothing to do. I got out my brand new Apple Mac and started to rough out a story based on a girl who got caught between the crooks who run the illegal Thai Lottery and a man who had a winning ticket and was determined that he would be paid out. An interesting short story, I thought, maybe 20 or 30 pages. I run a couple of web-sites for friends who go on golf tours, they were usually pretty appreciative of my posts. The plan was to circulate the story to them and leave it there. It did not go according to plan.
Do you like “people watching?”
I love it. Italy is a favourite holiday destination and I have long enjoyed the evening promenade that is a feature in many Italian cities. To start with, I wanted to rush to the local bar to get a good seat, certain it would rapidly pack with locals. I was wrong; Italians enjoy the promenade so that people can look at them, not so that they can be part of the audience. I like to sit, watch and make up stories about the people I can see. I thought Italy was great, Thailand is even better. I am deeply indebted to the many people who sat alongside me in the bars of Thailand or just walked past in the street and inadvertently gave me the raw material for the book.
Vaguely encouraged by the fact that the Lottery story seemed to be coming together, I wrote it all down and tried to weave it into a coherent novel. The French trip was two-week thing and I wasn’t going to be skiing. I drove back to the UK with 30,000 words and a hobby was born.