Duggie Bones is the eleven-year-old hero of my story You’re Magic, Duggie Bones.
He’s a fashion disaster, knows the capital city of every country in the world, likes cooking and he can follow flat pack instructions, no problem. He’d really like to blast the kids who bully him into outer space but a bike for a quick getaway would be almost as good.
He thinks the only thing that’s going to get him either of those is a magic spell and in You’re Magic, Duggie Bones he thinks he’s found one.
Duggie’s fashion sense is inspired by a friend’s son, about eleven at the time, who had no qualms about wearing ankle swingers and a sickly yellow, floral shirt from Oxfam. Duggie’s favourite colour is purple but he also has a penchant for orange and lime green, obviously. His interest in capitals came from a young man who at six years old judged everybody’s worth according to how many they knew. (His little brother only knew two and I could never remember the capital of Suriname, which is Parimarebo by the way.) Duggie’s got into cooking because his mum’s been a bit all over the place since she kicked Dad out or he left, one or the other and as for flat pack furniture, it’s easy because following instructions is what he does. He’s just a bit taller than average, a birds nest of brown curls springs from his head and he leans a little to the right as he lopes along. He’s not particularly bright in the top-set-at-school sense, but through You’re Magic, Duggie Bones, he discovers that he is brave and resourceful.
Duggie popped into my head on a Tuesday evening in September 2006. I was in my first Creative Writing for Profit and Pleasure evening class at Taunton’s College in Southampton. Brendan the tutor did all the usual first class admin and intros before he gave us this task. We had to complete the sentence:
In his fridge, character name kept a item 1, item 2 and item 3.
This was my sentence:
In his mum’s fridge Duggie Bones kept a half eaten bag of sherbet lemons, his hat (he needed a cool head) and the nearly dead scorpion he found in the shed last night.
The sherbet lemons have gone the way of all edited material (buried in a file for future use), the hat isn’t kept in the fridge anymore but thinking about it, I might slip that back in and the scorpion is alive and well and living in… well, that would be telling.
The homework was to finish the paragraph, in which a Professor Mosotho from the landlocked country of Lesotho (capital city Maseru) in Southern Africa, had explicit instructions regarding the scorpion. I was amazed how that paragraph slid from my fingers and how more splurged out. Finding out that I did have an imagination after all was great. I didn’t realise how long it was going to take to rein it in and I’m still reining.
I love the idea of eccentric kids trying to be themselves, and trying to survive while they do. I also love the idea of eccentric happenings and colourful characters against a bleak backdrop. I’ll tell you more about that later. Duggie was my first character and I’m sticking with him, just can’t help it I’m a completer finisher.
If you like the sound of him, you can listen to the first chapter (via Audioboo) here.