Inspiration for stories can come from the strangest places. For me, the idea for Bullets came one day while I was waiting in line at the Superstore.
I had just returned from Bangladesh and still had the images of this developing country in my mind when I had to stop and pick up a few groceries on my way home.
It was rather a surreal experience: being in the midst of plenty when just 24 hours before I had watched a group of children, shirtless and shoeless, rummage through a garbage bin.
So when I stood in line, waiting my turn, it came as no surprise that I was a little irked when the lady behind me started to complain about the long line up.
“Oh,” I said, “this is nothing. You should see the line up in Sudan right now.” I figured it would get the point home. Sudan: war torn country, thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives, starving children carried in their mothers’ arms, waiting for a meagre handout of rice.
But it didn’t. The woman glared at me and blurted, “Well, I pay taxes here, you know!”
It was obvious this woman was not going to get it. No matter what I said to her.So rather than risking a full out heated argument I stuck my hands in my pocket and found a remote control that somehow magically appeared next to my car keys. I didn’t pull it out. I simply pressed the send button and off the woman went. To Sudan. And I pictured her, sweat dripping off her brow, clutching her empty stomach, looking ahead at the thousands of people, in that same long, long line.
I know this makes me look like I’m some crazed deranged old lady but it was my imagination and my own little coping mechanism.
And that is where I got the idea of sending two North American boys away to a place where their first world values would clash with the third world’s struggles.
I still keep a remote control in my pocket. And although it’s invisible and no one knows it’s there, I have sent many people to many different places. I’ve sent kids who complain about going to school off to Afghanistan and people who want to stick it to their boss, to a sweatshop or two. And I’ve sent myself off to a few places when I forget how blessed I am.
I suppose it’s a weird way to be inspired for a story but it did the trick. And I have a long line up at a grocery store and one nasty woman to thank for it.
My journey as an author, giving voice to child soldiers.