The Story Behind The Story: ‘Dinosaurs’

I have a story called ‘Dinosaurs’ in the current issue of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special (out until around 5th June, after which, July’s edition will hit the shelves). Isn’t that a lovely illustration they’ve put with it?

I got the initial idea when I drove past a farm which had a sign up outside: ‘Emu eggs for sale’. That, I decided, needed to go into a story. But that was as far as I got. I jotted it down in my notebook and there it sat, for several months, before the ‘partner idea’ came to me. (I usually need two ideas to make a story – I’ve probably told you that before).

Waitrose has a free weekly newspaper and it often has interesting and useful articles in it (other supermarkets – and newspapers – are available!). Back in March, they had a feature on a producer of quails’ eggs and that was it. As I read about the quirky little birds, who live in polytunnels and are ‘little princesses’ with lots of character, I got the idea for a poultry farmer and a girl who’s a reluctant rep’ for an animal feed company.

It took me a long time to write it and I had to do a bit of research on emus but the end result was a bit different, I like to think – at least, in terms of setting and subject matter – and perhaps that was what clinched the sale.

If you want to know why it’s called ‘dinosaurs’, you’ll have to buy the magazine and read it (or stand in WH Smiths and flick through, very quickly!).

Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special June 2017

And still on the subject of ‘wildlife’, we currently have 2 sets of bees nesting in our garden. Not sure if ‘nesting’ is the right word but the first lot – and they are tree bumblebees, we have worked out – are definitely nesting, because they’re in our (old, un-used and cobwebby) bird box.

Here are Bertie, Bella and Branwell Bee! Up to 500 bees can live in a bird box, so only another 497 to name.

I suspect we might have so many because, completely by chance, we have 2 of the top plants for bees in our garden – wisteria and cotoneaster – both currently in flower.

We also have buddleia, which is in their top 5 too but that won’t flower until later in the summer. If you look very closely at the photo, you can just see the gingery fronts of 3 of the bees. I had to get quite close to take that shot but according to Friends of the Earth, they are ‘very docile and will only sting you if you grab them in your hand’. Well, I’ll try not to put that to the test.

The second lot of bees are in the eaves of our garage and we can’t get quite near enough to decide what they are. Anyway, they’re a bumblebee of some kind too, which means, as they’re not honeybees, we won’t be getting any kind beekeeper to come and take them away to his/her hives. Hmm… I can feel a story idea taking shape…

Bees’ favourite: wisteria

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12 Responses to The Story Behind The Story: ‘Dinosaurs’

  1. juliathorley says:

    If only I could pop into WHS. We’ve lost our branch, so have to resort to supermarkets for our mags, which somehow doesn’t seem right. We’ve got a bee hotel in our garden, too, and a cotoneaster and yes, smothered with these fascinating creatures.

    • Supermarkets definitely don’t have the range of WH Smiths. My nearest one is in Stratford, about 25 mins away and I do like a bit of a mooch whenever I’m in there (and try to stay away from the books! I already have too many books on my ‘to read’ pile!)

  2. pennywrite says:

    We have bumblebees too this year. Last time they chose to make a home in our former garden I rang the local beekeepers’ association in a panic! But all turned out well in the end. One snippet I was told was that since they grew progressively fatter throughout the summer it might eventually make the box a tight squeeze. Your three look okay in the doorway at the moment!

    • That’s interesting, Penny but as you say, I think our bees are ‘safe’ because the hole is pretty big. Well, it’s big enough for great tits (they nested in that bird box a couple of years ago), so it should be fine for bees.

  3. Wendy Clarke says:

    Loved reading how you got the idea for Dinosaurs. I’m not surprised you sold it as I can’t imagine there were too many others that week about emus! (and it certainly wouldn’t have been a ‘well worn theme’ 😀).

  4. banksywrites says:

    Lovely story, Helen. I feel there’s a sequel there 😉. Re bees, our garden was in the flight path of a bee colony living in the eaves of a neighbour’s extension, and we kept having to duck when pottering about outside. It was a bit of a nuisance when we wanted to sit out with a cheeky glass of prosecco, but then they suddenly upped wings and left. Now we have a pigeon nesting in another neighbour’s garden which seems to be using out garden as a public convenience.

    • Hi Clare, good to hear from you. Yes, the story is a bit ‘open ended’ isn’t it – perhaps I will revive the characters at some point! Pigeons are a pain. We have some that come onto the bird table and we always shoo them away. The bird table is strictly for the little, sweet birds, not those lumbering great things (and yes, their toiletting habits are also not welcome!!)

  5. Kate Hogan says:

    Lovely story, Helen – clever, too. I really enjoyed reading it. Glad you posted on the story because it made me realise I hadn’t read my Woman’s Weekly (which I thought I had!) and went on a house search and found it! Good wishes Kate Hogan

    • Ah, thank you Kate, that’s very kind of you to say. I’m like that too – I buy magazines or have them delivered on subscription and then I forget to read them, or only read half of them. I have too many!

  6. philippabowe says:

    Hi Helen, it’s been ages! I usually get time to read through your posts, but not to answer…for this one, I told my mum about the story (she really enjoyed one of your previously published stories) so she went out and bought the mag (obviously impossible for me in deepest rural France!). She loved it and will be passing it on to her neighbour. I was visiting this weekend so got to read it too – a lovely and original tale, and I particularly liked to non-happy every after ending. 🙂

  7. Aw, Philippa thanks for your comment. I’m so pleased you and your mum (and possibly also, by now, your mum’s neighbour!) enjoyed the Dinosaurs story! Yes, the obvious ending (*SPOILER ALERT!) would have been to have them ending up together but I thought it would be more satisfying and more ‘girl-power-ish’ if the end result of their friendship wasn’t ‘lurrve’ but a kick up the backside for her to do something with her brains! There is of course, the possibility that they will get together in a couple of years’ time…!

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