For me, finding inspiration and ideas for short stories is practically everywhere I look. In the case of In a Land of Canaries, my inspiration stemmed from a recent trip to London with my dad and brother. One of the places we visited was Canary Wharf – a realm completely unfamiliar but which also made a profound impact on me. I think what struck me most was the sheer amount of glass buildings surrounding us on all sides and how the sky was reflected back wherever we looked.
As a starting point, (which is the case with most of my short stories), I usually only need either an initial sentence or a phrase or a single image which embodies the story I want to relay. For ‘Canaries’ I can distinctly remember being on a train, leaving Birmingham City Centre behind for the day, and reflecting on our recent trip. I soon had Canary Wharf in my mind and wondered about the origin of the name. Why Canary? I wanted to try and justify the name and knew that I would write a story about Canary Wharf involving canaries.
Another aspect which I wanted to capture was the sheer awe I felt when I first saw these huge glass buildings first-hand; the layout, the structure and the reflections seemed to dwarf me, and I knew then that I would write a story about Canary Wharf with a fantastical element to it.
I enjoy writing stories that loosely fit the ‘magical realism’ spectrum and so I started to explore the possibility of Canary Wharf’s workforce as canaries in disguise, and since I was new to the area, I created a narrator who was there as a reporter – someone on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of what they were seeing.