Robina Brooks


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The Brampton Musketeers started life as a short story book titled The Class of 64’ and was originally based on a school reunion the author attended in the 1980’s. At the time Robina (the pen-name of Ann Brady for this book) wasn’t overly impressed with the people she met at the reunion, finding some of them to be quite pretentious and condescending. It appeared that the girls who behaved in this manner were in fact ‘horrors’ whilst in school, so Robina felt why not write about them, albeit changing their names and some of the facts.

Sometime later Ann entered the short story in a competition and won 3rd prize for its originality. Well, of course it sounded original because it was based upon real people. The story thereafter got stored away on the computer and was for a long time forgotten. However, over the years Ann would occasionally go through all the work she had stored but which had not yet been published and spend her time tweaking the stories. Slowly The Class of 64’ grew.

When Covid hit in 2019 Ann started feeling as if she was missing out in the publishing game. Over the last few years Ann has built a reputation for Mentoring Writers worldwide and is known as the Fairy Godmother for Aspiring Writers. She’s not just helped adults but also younger writers. With this lack of not having achieved anything in her writing for sometime Ann began looking at her stored files. Inspecting The Class of 64’ story she realised there were things she could do with it and so began a journey of discovery as to which way her seven characters good progress. The result was The Brampton Musketeers.

So how did she take a simple class reunion into a story that features, teenage rape, terrorism, Irish bombings, homosexuality, the army, the police and above all the re-ignition of friendship. Well here are some clues in the following Q & A session she recently held with some of her readers.

Q: You’ve explained what the basis of the book was originally about, but how did you get from a to b so easily?

A: Actually, it wasn’t that easy. When we start to write we always begin with a basic idea. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw. You have all those pieces and you need to know how to put them together in order to see the finished picture. Fortunately with a jigsaw it’s relatively simple, after all we have a box lid with a picture on it to follow. But when we write we have to use our imaginations and that is when you need to think outside the box. I wanted the story to have different elements in it that would not only surprise but also disappoint, delight and maybe even shock the readers.

I you think about writing about a simple school reunion could be quite boring so I needed to spice the whole thing up. Now, as I’d never written anything like this before I really had to think outside the box. Which meant that I had to strip back my characters and decide just exactly who they were. And that is exactly what I did.

Q: Can you give us an example of that please?

A: Mmm… yes. Let’s look at Melinda or I should say Lady Melinda Priestly-Teddington. Here was a very pretty girl who just prior to leaving school is raped by her brother and his friend. This one action against her changes her whole way of life. Now rape is very tender subject to cover, especially teenage rape so one has to be exceedingly careful in the manner of how you approach it. I will admit to being very hesitant in keeping those scenes in the book, which is the reason for pen-name. Being a children’s PB author I didn’t want to muddy the waters so felt it might be better with a first debut novel of this kind to be a little more circumspect in the way I handled it.

Q: Are any of the characters based on real people?

A: Well, yes. In reality they are all based on people I knew many, many years ago. Obviously I changed the names as well other things about them but at the core I can recall the face and character of each girl as if I met them yesterday. When we write if we can we should try and look at life and at what goes on around us. By doing so it helps us create more realism in both our scenes and our characters and it goes a long way to helping produce a good story.

Q: The story appears to be self-contained, being that its got a past, present and future. Do you think you might write more about your characters in your story such as what happens to them in say 10 or twenty years time?

A: Mmm… that’s a good question. You never know. I also say never say never. When I finished the book I did think there was more I could have said. So yes, I suppose I can expand their lives further. After all, if Melinda can go on to marry a Baron, and Zhora can marry a white, English guy who knows what the possibilities are for the other girls in the story. I think you’ve given me food for thought haven’t you?

For more information about The Brampton Musketeers or if you have a question about any of the characters or would like to know how Robina set about writing the book, or if you need help with your writing then contact us with your questions by using the contact link.