Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Good Genes

Please welcome new author Nikki Logan to Writer's Wednesday! And as she turns another year older, she tells us how it's all in the genes...

This month I celebrate a significant birthday—one that ends in a zero and starts in a four. Several years ago, I made myself the commitment that I would be published-by-forty. My deadline for my fourth manuscript for Harlequin Romance is on my fortieth birthday. It means I’ll be writing instead of partying but…hey…I made it! In the lead-up to that eventful day, I thought it was a good time to look at the origins of my writing journey and three men who had a huge impact on my storytelling life.

My earliest memories of storytelling were in my Pop’s shed, jam-packed full of the trappings of seaside living; foam lifebuoys, crab nets, salt-crusted rope-coils, a dinghy. I would climb into that little boat on its mounting blocks and watch my pop fashion elegant and complex fishing lures at his work bench. As I watched and he lured, he’d feed me exciting instalments of the verbal soap-opera, Sammy the Spider. Sammy was a fictional Daddy Long-Legs inspired by the many arachnid inhabitants high in the rafters. Pop would lay out complex and engaging episodes in his melodious Welsh voice until I truly believed that Sammy the Spider headed out on maritime adventures tucked under the rim of Pop’s crabbing dinghy. Pop often promised that he would capture the Adventures of Sammy the Spider on paper and one day write a book. Sadly his ageing body had other ideas.

Perhaps not surprisingly given his heritage, my father was also a wordsmith and he made his name in the advertising industry (the most prolific storytellers of all!). He could turn a simple joke into a full-bodied, heavily embellished performance in three-part harmony much to the delight of his children or his dinner guests. The simplest of anecdotes came to life as they tumbled off his talented and engaging tongue. He had so many stories to tell. Like his own father, mine died before he was able to write the book he’d been talking for years about penning, but even in death he made sure he went out on a good tale with instructions that a long and superbly embellished joke be told in lieu of a eulogy at his funeral.

And lastly my maternal grandfather. My appropriately-mannered Grandad was a different man behind the closed doors of the good lounge-room as he acted out every line on the Best of Danny Kaye for my entertainment, leaping around the room and rattling the good crystal hard enough to make Grandma shout scolds through the doors. Danny Kaye's world was our space and our special time together and, after his passing, the only item I asked for in the possession split-up was that ageing vinyl record. I would have fought to the death for it.

I lost them all early but all three men taught me by example to be creative and larger-than-life, to appreciate the gift of language and to love telling stories. Neither my father or his ever got around to writing the book they spoke and dreamed of. Life got in the way for them. For me too until just a few years ago. I like to think Grandad, Pop and Dad might have clanked their beer glasses together and sent me a little cosmic ‘cheers’ from the heavens on the day I sold my first book. I certainly owe them a beer each for the storyteller genes.

Who were your creative role-models as a child? What are your earliest memories of storytelling?

Nikki Logan's debut "Lights, Camera...Kiss the Boss" hits shelves in the US/UK in February, just in time for Valentines Day.


  1. Had TINGLES reading your story of the three gorgeous men because my creative impulses probably come from my granddad too. He was a magician well before I was born but always put on a show for his grandkids, sang ridiculous songs and generally made a mockery of himself for our amusement!! Miss him like mad!! And he's still my hero inspiration in a lot of ways :)

  2. Lovely words Nikki!
    I didn't know either of my grandfathers (my dad's father was 64 when he was born. He would have been over 100 when i was born if he was still alive)so your post makes me think i was missing out!
    My mother was the storyteller in our house and maybe my much older sister - although that was more about getting out of trouble...

  3. What a great post... And it brought back some tearful memories for me (good tears that is!) of my dad who was Irish and certainly had the gift of the gab.

    He used to make up stories to tell me and my sisters and brother every evening when we were kids. I still remember the characters he made up of 'Mad Mary and Terrible Mitch' who were a couple of incompetent crooks and their clever daughter Fiery Freeda and their dog 'named Spot'. He had us all in stitches one night with a story about them stealing a lorry full of loo rolls during a loo roll shortage... Well, you had to be there (and be eight years old) to appreciate the humour I think...

    I still miss him.

  4. Rachel & Heidi, some days I treasure that I never really knew my grandparents as an adult because I can hold close those magical memories of childhood forever.

    Then on others I wish I could have known them as an adult, known them as friends and not just as grandies. To know what I brought them rather than just what they brought me.

  5. Becca... Ah yes the fine institution of 'porky-pies' as my pop would say. I'd like to do a survey of the families of writers and see how many of them (of us!) were terrific...erm...embellishers. I know I was. LOL.

    I am sorry that you never knew your grandparents, they are a particularly special part of a childhood, but it sounds like your mum and your sister took their storytelling responsibilities very seriously *wink*

    And now you must pass the tradition on for the young people in your family lest they think stories come from boxes and not from imaginations...

  6. Ooh, party on India's blog!

    Been manically finishing revisions but just had to stop by and say oh my god I can completely relate to your politically incorrect yearnings!

    I remember sitting down with one of my tutors at Uni who was trying to encourage me to do a post-grad after my degree. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't want to. When I said because I wanted to get married, buy a house and have children instead he almost fell off his chair. I may as well have just said I wanted to join the circus....

    Can't wait to read the book and looking forward to catching up in September!

    Sabrina xx