Jinny-Joe

Growing up as I did in a world filled with fear and anger, it is easy to forget the happy times.  School was no refuge and I was surrounded by toughness and angst.  In the midst of what becomes exaggerated to terror for a small boy wanting to smile, I was loved and that most certainly saved me.

My mother was truly special, but even so times were different and the sad truth is, as a little boy much of my anxiety about the world was internalised.  No one saw the me inside.   As adults, it is easy to forget that children see the world through different eyes.  Beneath my skin I was a gentle soul, but surrounded by perceived danger I toughened up and that tough little cookie stayed with me.    Some hold the view that children need to be toughened up and while it is true that we can over-coddle our children, there is a level of toughening that goes beyond strengthening of character and becomes damaging.  For many it can seem a life unredeemable.  I am fortunate to have felt the touch of love and there I have found redemption from the darkest of fates.

All of us carry some memories or feelings from our childhood that maybe we wish we could blow away like a Jinny-Joe, the floating seeds of a dandelion.  When I ink a character into existence, I always feel their past like a breeze whispering in my ear.   I see each new creation as a Jinny-Joe floating silently by, filled with hope and possibilities, no matter how I first imagine them.

I use my younger, sad little soul’s experience, to help them find a way to their smile or to their strength.  Like me when I was a little joker of a boy, all fair-haired in shorts doing impressions of movie stars to make the world laugh and only smiling on the outside, I want my characters to have layers for the reader to discover.  Their emotions, their strength and vulnerability are like my Jinny-Joes.   I pluck them like I did when I was a child and blow the seeds skyward saying ‘Jinny-Joe, Jinny-Joe fly away’ waiting for the seeds to float to my readers and plant a seed.

If by reading a Max Power story, you are touched, excited, saddened or maybe even a little frightened at times, then the seed has taken root.  To be touched by a story is special.  I write purely for pleasure and just want to let my stories fly like Jinny-Joes on the wind, waiting to find the perfect place to lodge.  Maybe then I think that the small boy I remember, who read endless books to escape the harsh world and walked the walk with convincing bravado, will have given something back for all that I have received.  The wish I made for the Jinny-Joe was a hopeful thing for me as a child and despite the confident smile I wear on the outside, that little boy is still in here … hoping…

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A crinkle

Someone once told me I was beautiful and it made me cry. It was a long time ago now but I remember that moment so clearly. I’m not beautiful. Certainly in my minds eye, I am far form that which is called beauty.

Yet to be offered this gift, this unexpected and unfamiliar compliment, touched me deeply and but a crinkle in me. When I write I love crinkles in my characters. They need to be ruffled and shaken a little to breathe life into their inky frames.

But a crinkle in me? I had spent so much of my life avoiding so many things, working hard to push past the open door, afraid to look in for fear I might like what I felt I could never have. A crinkle? A crease in my armour meant someone had peeked beneath my skin and whispered in my ear. It was ok to imagine and dream again like I had done as a child. Hope was not a thing to fear and that simple crinkle, that unexpected wrinkle changed me.

I create characters in my books, that daren’t hope or desperately cling to hope when all is lost.

Someone I love dearly put a crinkle in me and now I sneak them in my books. I was afraid of creasing the fabric of my mind but there was nothing to fear. Best thing that ever happened to me really and hopefully best thing I can do for my characters.

I don’t normally offer advice, I’m not qualified, but if I did, maybe it would be to allow the occasional crinkle in your life.