The Flesh and Blood Trilogy: Looking Back

Flesh and Blood

Dreda Say Mitchell looks back on the writing process behind the Flesh and Blood trilogy.

Posted on August 28, 2017 in Behind the Scenes
Tags: Blood Daughter, Dreda Say Mitchell, Flesh and Blood

There’s an old saying that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family – you’re stuck with them for better or worse. But when you start writing about families, you can very much choose what family you want and why you want them. That’s why when I began the ‘Flesh and Blood’ trilogy, set where I grew up in the East End of London, I already had a set of characters in mind. Two young sisters, Tiff and Jen, were centre stage in the first book Blood Sister; Tiff the teenager from hell and Jen, together with their single mum Babs who’s trying her best to bring her girls up right. Add into the mix Dee, a woman on the make, and you’ve got the East End I remember growing up in.

Blood Mother has a special place in the trilogy for me because it allowed me to delve into my memories of the 1970s. What a time, so very different from now. Can you imagine a time when you could buy sweetie cigarettes for your kids? But it was also a time when people had great hopes for the new housing estates they started living on.

But it’s the characters who were my greatest delight – some with hearts of gold, and others that were bad uns to the core, like Mel Ingram, prepared to tread on anyone and everything to get what they want out of life. That’s why in my latest book in the series, Blood Daughter, I was upset and disappointed with the behaviour of Babs’ daughters when their mum tries to do a good deed for them. This is the problem with characters, they start to take on a life of their own and do their own thing whether the writer who created them likes it or not. Even while I was writing the story, I was muttering under my breath, ‘These girls are a right piece of work, doing their mum over like this…’ But that’s the thing with writing a trilogy, you can choose your friends but once they’re created, you can’t choose your characters.


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