Drawing inspiration from my grandmothers #MyWritingInspirations

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My grandmothers Betty and Olly

As I get closer to releasing Janet’s Yellow Butterflies, I have been reflecting on some of the literature, media and memories that inspired ideas for it. 

Today’s inspirations are my grandmothers, Betty and Olly. Sadly both have passed, but I have helped keep their memories alive by drawing inspiration from them for two characters in Janet’s Yellow Butterflies.

It is very easy to get caught up in the political correctness of our modern world, but with Janet’s Yellow Butterflies, I have tried to dig into the richness of these two women who both had so much influence over my life. I have empathised with their generations and the lives they led to develop Annie in the modern day storyline, and Mairi in her later years in the 1700s storyline. I have found inspiration in the many stories that Betty and Olly shared with us over the years, and the relationships they had with their children, peers and elders.

Mairi’s story spans three decades, so reflecting on photos and stories from my grandmothers’ lives really helped me to understand our journey from early adulthood to mature age. These are two of my favourite photos, showing them both as young women in their prime. I have tried to weave into the story how our priorities and responsibilities change at different points in our lives, and how we are influenced and impacted by the people around us, our changing society, and events that take place throughout our lifetime. 

Olly, who was born in 1925, was especially well known for her frequent use of colloquialisms, some of which I have not heard elsewhere. Her grandfather’s family was Scottish, and many of these sayings would have been passed down through the family. This was the perfect inspiration to help colour Mairi’s personality in particular, as she was Scottish. 

Betty was born in 1920, and lived until she was almost 103. She spent her last 28 years without the love of her life, my Grandpa. In Janet’s Yellow Butterflies, a character is estranged from the love of her life for a similar amount of time. Understanding how this impacted Betty helped me to express this sense of loss in the story, and to articulate that people can continue to feel bonded with loved ones after they have passed away or have been separated, through daily thoughts and unexpected reminders. 

I am grateful to have had such a close connection with both grandmothers from birth, through childhood and into adulthood. They were a timeless constant throughout my life, gently imparting their wisdom and knowledge, and always intuitively knowing when to lend an ear. Their influence continues to be ever present in our lives as I share their stories with my children and embody them into my writing. They have both certainly helped shape my life and my personality for the better, and have provided me with much writing inspiration over the years, often instinctively!

Read more of my writing inspirations here: emmaelizabethauthor.com/blog