Story Insights: The Inspiration behind The Borderlands
These days, the possibility of losing all one's worldly possessions is becoming a scary reality for a lot of people. But for some, it happened long before COVID-19.
My YA fantasy adventure series,The Borderlands, started life as a small seed of an idea after meeting an elderly man who had lost everything he owned to a long, unexpected and expensive divorce – his cars, his five bedroom house, his dog. He didn't, however, lose one thing... his small rundown houseboat.
That houseboat became his new home. After a few years life began to look up for him financially, but he never moved out of his houseboat. Living on a vast lake and rivers system, he was able to keep moving his home from town to town, never staying too long in any one place, lest people ask questions.
My partner was invited on his houseboat one morning, and I went along out of curiosity. It was a beautiful summer morning and he had moored his houseboat along a section of river with a bike path running along the bank and a gorgeous stretch of forest. Being keen cyclists, we cycled to his location and stepped aboard.
I honestly couldn't believe it. I'm very sure I have romanticised his existence, but it seemed such a special way to live. He was surprisingly self-sufficient, to a degree, with pots of vegetables growing on his small deck and he demonstrated how he did a lot of fishing, even through a trapdoor in the floor in the interior! He opened it up to reveal so many fish beneath. I was quite mesmerised with his way of life and the fact that he could live in such beautiful, natural locations.
That meeting sparked my imagination. I kept picturing what his life must be like. I imagined the freedom and the loneliness.The adventures and the fears. It made me consider deeply what homelessness was like. But it also sparked my imagination to wonder what it would be like to live on the water.
The seed of an idea began to form as I imagined a girl being forced to escape on a boat. As the idea took hold, I kept thinking about homelessness, and an old man called Gareth quickly became a recurring theme. Within two weeks of that meeting, I had begun chapter one of The Borderlands: Journey.