Never meet your heroes Part 2

Two weeks ago I asked whether meeting the characters from PBH lived up to my expectations. Upon reflection, I have to say that I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were.

I thought it would be strange, for sure. Not only for me but for those I was meeting as well. How much, I wonder, did WAVE participants know about what was going on in London and Glonn between September 2013 and May 2014?

Not a great deal, I would venture. But they knew that someone was writing a book in which they would feature. How did that feel? Were they as nervous about meeting me as I was about meeting them?

Not that I could make out.

Truth is, I probably wasn’t their top priority. Now, don’t get me wrong: everyone was polite, friendly and extremely generous with their time. But for all the bonhomie, I sensed that behind the mask there lay a real seriousness of purpose.

Why? Because, quite simply, WAVE is hard work. It requires patience, stamina and a huge amount of planning.

Moreover, those participating are engaged in struggle that is arguably far more significant: that is, to overcome the general public’s preconceptions about electric mobility.

The greatest compliment I can pay to all those I met is that for one weekend in May I felt like I was part of the same struggle.

And that, I can quite honestly say, is something I did not expect.

Never meet your heroes

People say you should never meet your heroes.

But what about your characters?

Alright, so it’s not a question most writers have to deal with. After all, they can’t meet their characters – at least not in the form in which they appear on the page.

Project Black Hungarian is a little different in that respect. Indeed, one of the things that makes it stand out from your standard novel is the fact that the people in it are very definitely real. Not only do they exist in flesh and blood; they also took part in WAVE 2013.

Alice N.York and I started writing PBH shortly after that particular expedition came to an end. For almost nine months, I carried an image of the participants in my head. I thought about how they spoke, how they behaved, how they interacted with one another.

Gradually, I got to know them. I spent so much time with them that it was impossible not to. They became, for better or worse, part of my day-to-day life.

Then, almost a year on from signing the contract, after months and months of toil, I finally met them.

Did the meeting live up to my expectations?

Stay tuned in the next few weeks to find out…