Tuesday, December 03, 2013

And Your Protagonist Is An Escaped Convict

Your story opens with a woman and her younger lover attempting to rob a petrol station with a knife, and failing.

It's not all that easy to commit a crime with a knife, especially if the victim has another weapon, like a hurley, which would knock the knife right out of your hand and then where are you? Or the station attendant could just lock himself in the station and ring up the police, leaving you with nothing but a free tank of gas if you drive off, but you can't buy anything with that.

The woman has a small child, perhaps in need of milk or a bag of crisps and that is the reason why the desperate mother goes along with her lover to steal money. You could make her motivation one of fear, with the lover a particularly cruel man who threatens the child with bodily harm if the mother doesn't participate.

In your first chapter, you skim over the arrest and the pre-trial stress of sitting in a British jail, the protagonist fretting about the care of her little girl. The chapter closes with the couple being granted bail and then skipping out. A taste of incarceration has convinced your lead character that jail is not to her taste. And there's the daughter to consider.

Naomi Mothersoul did just that. She took part in a botched robbery, and then made a dash across the Irish Sea with her partner as soon as she bonded out. That was in 1994. She was not found until this past August, when she was returned to England where the warrant for her arrest had been collecting dust.

For most of the time she was hiding from British justice, she lived quietly in a small Kerry town, keeping to herself and raising her three children. As you'd expect, the relationship between Ms. Mothersoul and her partner deteriorated under the strain of the fugitive's life, and she became a single mother. The Irish taxpayers funded her housing, which Ms. Mothersoul decorated with some privacy shrubs. You can't be too careful when you're hiding from the authorities.

If you find this real life incident useful as a writing prompt, you could generate a thrilling bit of fiction by imagining Ms. Mothersoul's nerve-wracking life, never knowing if someone was going to discover her presence. You would have her move cautiously at first, jittery at the most innocuous question from the lady behind her in the queue at the local market. Then she would shift a bit, straining at the self-imposed cage of fear, and volunteer at a local charity bookshop just to get out of the house. At the same time, she would be trying to raise her children in as normal an environment as possible, adding further strain to her mind.

There is a strong story in there. And how does it end?
Naomi Mothersoul's home for the next several months

Ms. Mothersoul was found out, by a British detective who never gave up on his quest to bring the guilty to justice. He was cleaning up his outstanding cases prior to retirement, and Ms. Mothersoul was a loose end to be tied up. The woman lived under her own name, and twenty years removed from The Troubles, there is cooperation between An Garda Siochana and their English counterparts. An international warrant was issued and that took care of that as far as the detective was concerned.

She went to trial and was given eighteen months. It's not so bad now, since her children are largely grown and don't need their mammy at their side. Ms. Mothersoul plans to return to Kerry after her time is served, to live freely, without fear of the gardai knocking on the door.

Your story could have a happy ending. Everyone likes a happy ending.

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