Yesterday's Scottish Cup Final ended with displays of violence and aggression from fans, which reminded of the background and starting point of my debut novel, A Beautiful Game.
I started writing A Beautiful Game on the day of the Scottish Cup Final four years ago after listening to a discussion on the radio about the dramatic rise in domestic violence after a big football match. The discussion got me thinking about children across Scotland who were sitting at home waiting for their dad to come home... Were they dreading his arrival home, were they praying that his team would win, or was it possible that some of them were wishing they could be with him?
I picked up my pen and began to create my main character Robbie...
Robbie MacFarlane is a disappointment to his father. Named after the top striker of Hearts Football Club, his dad calls him their lucky mascot, but Robbie has two left feet and secretly spends his time in the world of books. His dad says books are for girls.
After the publication of the book I was contacted by NHS staff, police officers and teachers, all writing to thank me for highlighting the link between domestic violence and major football fixtures. I’m extremely aware that domestic violence is a sensitive issue but it’s a subject rarely told from the young person’s point of view and I wanted to address that. I offer no answers or advice in the book, and so I suppose my aim is to raise awareness and get people talking.
When my three children were very young I didn't have much time for writing and so I wrote poems - extremely short poems:
Rainy Day (Ironstone)
Glass beads tumbling
Down the pane
Watch them race
Tiny hands moulded to cold glass
The Glass Cage (Ironstone 2)
I sit beside you, unable to hold you.
Through the opening in the glass I reach to you.
My fingers trace the tangled web
That traps your tiny body.
I fight the urge to release you.
I want to lift you, hold you,
Cradle you in my arms.
I brush your cheeks
Sending you my love.
I am denied you - my newborn child.
I also attended my first writers group run by the wonderful Magi Gibson and I very quickly caught the writing bug. I knew I wanted to write down all the images and stories racing around my brain and, although I was in awe of those who came along with stories and novel extracts, I also knew I had to have patience and wait until my children were older before tackling 'the novel in my head'.
So I went along every fortnight, taking along my own fragments of writing to share whenever I could, knowing they were often rushed and unpolished. And I listened. I listened carefully, absorbing every piece of advice that Magi gave to the group.
And now, when my children close the door and head off to school, and I have the luxury of a full day of writing ahead of me, I still hear Magi's wee gems of wisdom as I pick up my pen and begin to write...
Please check out Magi's website for information on her new courses for 2016: www.magigibson.co.uk
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.