‘Twenty year old Sarah is struggling to cope with a stressful job, demanding parents and an eating disorder, when she is drawn into the dark world of Graffiti and Street Art. Set in the nineties in an unremarkable mid-British town, Owl Eyes is a gritty yet funny coming of age story of loss, love, friendships, acceptance and overcoming adversity.’
I came up with the idea for Owl Eyes over a period of a year whilst making my art and music. I had always been interested in street art and had a friend who did her own paste-ups. I was inspired by her rebellious nature and I am always drawn to strong female characters in both real and fictional life. I am also a fan of Leticia Ribeiro who is a Brazilian jui jitsu champion and wanted to put some of her admirable kick-ass moves into it somewhere.
At the time, having never written a screenplay or a book before, I naively decided it would be easier to write it all into a book. I soon realised that neither of the two would be easy and that both require extremely different approaches!
I set the story in the early nineties – a time that saw a UK recession – not with the same levels of widespread poverty we see today in Britain, but nevertheless, my own experiences of homelessness and poverty in this recession inspired me to talk about some aspects of these things. I wanted the ‘underdog’ to win out and I wanted them to be kick-ass ladies because there just didn’t seem to be too many stories out there like that, at least not featuring all the things I am personally interested in.
This era, with it’s fashion, music, culture and the place I set it in is very familiar to me. I have drawn the style of dialogue between the characters from what I heard in this place. I prefer the reader to make up their own minds about where this might be.
There are elements of myself within the main character, Sarah AKA ‘Owlie’ but my favourite character is Mickey AKA ‘Phanatic’ who is an amalgamation of a few people and I would love to have her as a girlfriend – she is so tough and smart!
In the story, I really wanted to highlight the risks, action and adventure involved in street art – some of the situations are quite dangerous! It is also an examination of the people around the main characters which I hope, shows the reader why the characters are the way they are and what ultimately motivates them to move on in their lives.
Some of the things that I describe can get a little dark – but I wanted to try and balance that with the light of the good things that ultimately happen to the characters. I really like to employ as much humour as possible within the character’s interactions and didn’t want it all to be doom and gloom. If potential readers are looking for relentless misery and characters dying, then don’t pick up this book – but if like me, you enjoy reading about strong women, culture, the nineties, overcoming personal difficulties and are a big sucker for romance and happy endings with it, then you might like this story 😀
I am currently working on the film screenplay and will be bugging people to help me get it made.
Here’s an extract from pages 82-83 of Owl Eyes:
‘Oh look Peter, it’s so awful – do they have to go around defacing everything? What on earth gets into these kid’s heads? They wouldn’t like it if someone came and painted hideous things all over their property, it’s a bloody liberty I tell you, a bloody liberty!’
Centre-front page, leaving just enough room at the bottom for Supremo-man’s Carpets, featured a large picture of some owl eyes spray painted in bright yellow and pink stripes, underneath it, the headline in bold black capitals, ‘Stupidity!’.
‘You’re not saying anything about it, why is it you never have an opinion?’ said Sarah’s mother.
Peter looked up from the model lorry kit he had been putting together and mumbled, ‘Huh, what?’
‘Oh for goodness sake, you’ve not been listening to a word I’ve been saying. This – look!’ ironically jabbing the picture with a biro, ‘Graffiti, everywhere! This has absolutely ruined that lovely old heritage bridge.’
Peter surveyed the image carefully and finally said, ‘Well as far as I can ascertain, the person who did it was abit silly – all those electric wires being nearby and everything, but I think it’s a lot of fuss about nothing – good on them I say!’
‘What do you mean? You can’t be serious Peter?’
Martha’s mouth would not shut, she needed the extra air.
‘Yes, good on the little buggers! Be a daredevil while you can – life soon takes you down a false path of hope and bosses you about before eventually throttling you to death, so why not have fun beforehand?’
‘Are you insane?’ growing incredulous and suspecting a metaphor, ‘It’s just this sort of rot which erodes our wonderful democratic society. It’ll all end in anarchists and looters, you mark my words.’
‘Don’t be so stupid, it’s just abit of paint, no one’s going to end up breaking into Tesco and taking all the parsnips – although a Civil War’ll break out here in a minute if you don’t go and put the kettle on.’
‘Oh Peter, you are insufferable! Look it says here that these owls in particular have been spreading all over Town – it’s not just an isolated case. Apparently, the police will issue a cash reward to anyone able to provide information leading to the arrest of these individuals. I’d give that information for free if I knew it!’ she had completely overheated.
‘I’m not sure you would somehow.’ said Peter, thinking about last Thursday when he had been dragged into John Lewis. She told him she needed rejuvenating serum and he, for a very short time, had £200 in his wallet.
He looked again and thought the owl pictures over the page seemed slightly familiar. Peter did not know anyone who drew or painted apart from Sarah, and she had not seriously picked up a brush since school. He felt certain he didn’t know any anarchists…
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