guest blog from jessica scott-whyte
As it’s just you and me here, I feel I should begin the author’s note to my Middle Grade comedy by admitting to you that I don’t consider myself funny, at all. Not only that, I’m pretty sure that most people I know wouldn’t associate me with humour.
So why a comedy then?
In retrospect, I think the circumstances in which this story was written, were so intense and extreme, that humour had sort of become my last refuge. I began writing The Asparagus Bunch in late 2019, back when COVID was only an internet rumour, when my family and I were, like you, plunged into lockdown. It was for us, like for many, a hellish time.
‘Hang in there, you’ll get through,’ Mum said to me one morning on the phone, as I paced around our flat like a gerbil in a cage. ‘How’s the writing going?’
‘How do you honestly expect me to be writing anything at a time like this?!’ I snapped.
‘Well, keep trying. Write about things you like.’ I really wasn't in the mood for pearls of wisdom.
'Things I like? Oh, like what? Sweets?!’
‘Why not? You've always loved sweets.’
It’s probably not worth going into how those conversations ended but Mum’s suggestion did niggle away at me for a while until I decided to jot down a list of things that I liked enough to write an entire book about. Sweets was the first word I put down.
I’ve been somewhat fanatical about sweets since I was a very small child. Yes, I was that girl who went around with a candy watch on her wrist and a coloured co-ordinated Push Pop clipped to the front pocket of her jeans, i.e. the definition of cool in the early nineties. But a landmark confectionary moment for me was when I was six, and my babyminder, Carmel, went to Blackpool on holiday and brought me back my first ever Stick of Rock. I was completely bowled over by this enormous fluorescent pink cylinder with BLACKPOOL stamped inside its white centre. It’s a memory that has always stayed with me and inspired the setting for this story.