The story of Mouse
April 26th, 2012
Every now and then a character comes along who you just can’t forget, even when you can’t find the right story for them. For me, a small boy called Mouse was one of those characters.
Mouse first appeared in my head twelve years ago when I was trying to write a screenplay about a flying horse. He was the seven-year-old brother of the main character, and I could see that there was something very sweet about him. Unfortunately the screenplay wasn’t very good, and after a while I put it away in a drawer and forgot about it.
But Mouse stayed tucked away in the back of my mind. I wanted to use him, but couldn’t find the right story. While I was waiting, I named my cat, Miss Mouse, after him. And then I started working on City of Lies, Book 2 in the Keepers trilogy.
Now one of the things I do when I’m playing around with ideas for a book is cut pictures out of magazines and stick them in a scrap book. I don’t always know why I’ve chosen a particular picture – it just speaks to me in some way. But as soon as I saw this picture, I said to myself, ‘It’s Mouse!’ I can’t remember where I found the photo or who took it – all I know is that it was taken in the UK some time in the 1940s or 1950s.
So there I was with a small boy, Mouse, and a pram. And that’s when I remembered something that happened to me in Istanbul in 1986.
I was travelling through Turkey with a friend, and we were visiting the Istanbul spice market, where the air is full of wonderful smells and the honey-sellers encourage you to stick your finger in the honey and try it before you buy. There was a man telling fortunes with white doves, and he told mine. I can’t remember the fortune now, but I remember the doves very clearly, how they picked up bits of paper in their beaks, and the man read them out, with a bystander translating them into English, because my friend and I didn’t speak Turkish.
I don’t think the fortune came true. But that small event stayed with me for years and years, until I needed it.
Small boy + pram + fortune-telling = Mouse!
Lian Tanner has been dynamited while scuba diving and arrested while busking. She once spent a week in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, hunting for a Japanese soldier left over from the Second World War. Nowadays she lives by the beach in southern Tasmania with a large fluffy tomcat called Harry-le-beau.More about Lian