Notebooks: Stanley Park

Notebook Sometimes your notebooks surprise you. Here I discover that my character Trout (a kid) from my novel Stanley Park, was originally conceived as a Manchester United fan.

The horror.

Bear in mind this was written in 1996, just months before I discovered my admiration for the elegance and sophistication of the Chelsea Football Club.

But that’s not the point really. The point is that in notebooks, characters come to life in ways that even their creators can’t quite anticipate. And that makes them oddly more lifelike. They defy expectations. They behave, suddenly, a lot more like your own real friends.

Trout, who had suffered from Kawasaki’s disease, and ensuing heart complications, wanted to play soccer. His parents, understandably, were worried and protective. I’d forgotten that whole dynamic.

I’d also forgotten that Trout was an artistic kid. The empty glass wall Jeremy notices in this passage is where Trout had previously pasted up a big work of art, long gone from the manuscript. It looked like this:

Money Tree

At the time my manuscript was submitted, I recall my then-agent Dean Cooke writing to me and saying: “I hate the money tree. It’s too overtly symbolic.”

He was right. So we lost the money tree. And so this scene, in which Jeremy looks at an empty window where the non-existent money tree had been, makes reference to an idea that never made the final page. But it still leaves me wondering how things turned out. What happened to Trout’s artistic impulse? What happened to his desire to play soccer?

And I guess that curiosity explains why I’m now exploring what happened to these characters over the following years.