How do your family experiences translate into writing scenes? Rhobin has asked.

Good question but difficult to find an answer for as I share very little family stuff online. However, I have been pondering it and have come to a conclusion.

I think family experiences infuse my work but are not structural to it.

So, do the actions of any of my characters disappoint the protagonist? Antagonise her? Anger her? Overwhelm her with love? Leave her exasperated in either a funny or despairing way?

Yes, they do and all of that comes out of the experiences of family life.

One major family experience I have acknowledged, because all of the participants were long dead, was that of my granny. Finding herself in changed circumstances, she had to go to work in the mill. One of the overseers ran his hands through her glorious red hair. That indignity/ assault was the inspriation for Jennet in City of Discoveries, the nineteenth century story I wrote to mark the 150th anniversary of the People’s Friend magazine.

City of Discoveries

Another experience I have used often is the way in which the women of many, many families were deprived of an education in order that the males could go on. An aunt told me in some bitterness how her mother had always favoured the boys in that respect and she had always felt she would enjoy maths. It was a view I heard on visits to old people’s homes while working with Citadel Arts’ Group and I used it in my play STAIN REMOVER. It re-surfaces in MARIAH’S MARRIAGE and A MAID AND A MAN and roars through A CLASS OF THEIR OWN with storm force.

I have to say, my own parents never held me back academically. I might also say, that a bright boy in my school class was taken out of school at the earliest leaving-age moment by his blinkered father: “I went to work at fifteen, why should I keep him?”

So, yes, family experiences are in there. Have you discivered an overruling passion in your work?

My fellow robins are listed below and I’m sure there will be lots of interest to be gleaned from their posts.

After, you can scroll down to read Dear Granny Nuisance – my annual Christmas story for loyal readers and casual visitors. Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.


Bob Rich

Connie Vines

Skye Taylor

Marci Baun

Judith Copek

Diane Bator

Victoria Chatham

Rhobin L Courtright


10 thoughts on “ROUND ROBIN – DECEMBER

  1. Like you, I don’t drag much of my family life into social media but we can’t help our family experiences from coloring the way our characters react to the troubles e throw at them, can we?


  2. Thank you, Anne, for a very sensible answer to the question. I wish I could do one of those, but I guess my family experiences have made the rest of humanity out of step with me!
    I like the way you showed generational change.


  3. Interesting take on the topic, and yes, how family and society have behaved in the past still plays a big role not only in our stories but also still lingers in our age.


    • Hi Rhobin, another thought-provoking topic. I was once in a play-writing group where the theatre’s dramaturg encouraged us to dig up and confront the memories we’d ‘buried’. Challenging exercise. anne


    • Hi Victoria, I know – so sad. thanks for reading on to the story and for your kind words. Off out shortly to collect our Christmas dinner and fingers crossed the Covid allows some of us to eat it! Happy Christmas and a Healthy 2022. Anne


  4. Anne, It is interesting how family history becomes a part of family interaction in future generations. An example: As an adult, I knew someone who always cut off the end of a ham before cooking. This was quite a task because the bone is thick. She didn’t know why, it was how her mother and grandmother always prepared a ham. She thought everyone did the same. My question intrigued her and she queried her family members. Discovery: grandmother realized it was because her own mother had always cut a lump of meat to fit into her only roasting pan. Did they change the family tradition?


    • Hi Connie and Happy New Year, That’s a fun story. In my own family kitchen/sickroom, my mum always fed us milk when we were ill (and at most other times, too). It was well into adulthood before I discovered milk is a whole food and taking it when suffering from, for example, a tummy-bug, was prolonging the illness! There’s such a rich store of ideas in these stories. Anne


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