Many years ago, in the south of Sweden, in the apartment above mine a woman was living with her three daughters. She was really the typical person who inspired me to create interesting characters in my stories. Everyone living there rented their own private apartment, but the stairs belonged to everyone. People walked up and down all day; the postman, the neighbors with their dogs, salespersons, and from time to time some beggars from countries such as Russia and Poland. The dirty and smelly stairs were shut from the outside world that would never lock. You never knew who would pass your door, neither day nor night.
Every time I needed to visit the attic I had to pass that ladies apartment and her personal shoe rack. You could find all kinds of amazing, beautiful, practical shoes outside her door, sized extra small. She had a couple of very high heel shoes, some sneakers but no ankle boots. They were all standing in a straight line next to each other, as if she really minded that part of our stair house – as if it would be a part of her own private apartment.
What does this say about her? Well, she´s obviously naive or full of trust. Anyone could steal her shoes, if they wanted to. All of them! Maybe she´s even an exhibitionist, wanting to show everyone how many shoes she have and what kind. Maybe she´s fetish, with a passion for shoes? There´s no man ever passing her door. My fantasies are running wild!
Then she also drove that special car. It looked like any car, but it was quite small and had a sign in the back informing everyone that its maximum speed was 30 km/hour. That´s about 18,5 miles an hour. What adult mother drives that kind of car and why?
This woman looked like any ordinary woman. But she really caught my attention. I don´t know what she did for a living, nor do I know anything about her history. I just know she lived in my stair house using it as her personal exhibition place, when not driving people nuts blocking the roads with her slow car. But without people like her, there would be no stories to tell.
Discussion: What kind of people are surrounding you in your life? What is special with them? What makes them different from others? How can you use your observations and experiences of them in your writing? When you are at a public places, in what way do you observe people? Have you ever written down your observations to keep them for your future writing? What is the first thing you note when observing people – is it the way they look, how they dress, their body language, the way they talk, what they don´t do or say, how they relate to other people? Anything else? Why do you think this is what you notice first of all? What do you think other people notice first of all? Have you ever talked to anyone on that topic? I can tell you that the first thing I notice is how people talk, and then how they behave… What about you?