It seems that you’re going to see quite a bit of Patrice Lawrence and me until the end of the months as we have been teamed up to do quite a few things together, the first one being UKYACX!!!
Now if you haven’t heard of Patrice Lawrence before, she is the author of an original YA Thriller called “Orangeboy”. It’s set in London and follows Marlon at a point of his life where “wrong place, wrong time” pretty much sums it up. However what is interesting is how he handles what is thrown at him.
As an intro to the set of Orangeboy, Patrice has written a piece about a few places that inspired Marlon’s environment.
The Stories Written in Stone
This is not the post that I intended to write. I agreed to post some pictures of the locations that inspired Orangeboy. My visual memory often fails me. I have to take pictures or make notes if I wish to create a convincing image out of words. Somewhere in the misnamed folders that populate my numerous devices, there are snaps of fairgrounds and bus stops, Hackney Downs and Holloway Road. Even if I see the real things every day, I cannot tease the image in my head into a sentence on paper. For some reason, I need to flatten it into 2D first.
As I was browsing my non-existent filing system, I found the photos that my daughter and I took at a cemetery in east London around eight years ago. I was trying to write a different book, about three generations of a family crippled by an intergenerational secret. Although the grandmother had died before the start of the book, I wanted to understand what her grief-stricken widower would feel when he visited her grave. I decided that she would be buried in a certain cemetery in east London. I looked at the pictures online and knew that I needed to visit.
The book that I researched it for was never published. It is big and unwieldy and unpublishable. This cemetery, City of London, Cemetery and Crematorium, however, features in Orangeboy. The Victorian angels, the child’s grave, the squirrels, they are all here. That is because among many things, Orangeboy is about grief and loss. Death and abandonment pulls at all the families in the book. Marlon, his brother and mother, Louis White, Mrs Steedman and Melody, D-Ice, are all struggling to recalibrate their lives. Marlon tries to hold on to his father through music, sci fi, The Jackson Five. He and his mother rekindle happy memories. Mrs Steedman and Louis White try to reshape their loved ones through photographs.
Looking back through these photos now, I realise how much of Orangeboy was shaped by that visit. Here is the café where Marlon encounters Melody. There is the pathway they walk down. But in this place, every pathway is lined with stories, big and small. Founded in 1856, the cemetery tells the story of East End poverty. Catherine Eddowes and Mary Ann Nicholls, both believed to have been murdered by Jack The Ripper are buried here. We can see how many children dies young, how many women died giving birth to them. The grounds also tell the story of London’s continuous regeneration as old churches are demolished and their dead reinterred here. Communities also regenerate, as recent memorials reflect the new eastenders who have roots across the world.
As a Londonphile, the big social changes fascinate me. But as a writer, it is the personal stories that hold me. The inscriptions, the memorials, the love and the loss.
You can find Patrice Lawrence on Twitter at @
Patrice and I will be teaming up again so stay tuned!!#yashot & #lostandfound tour stops!!