I would like to pay tribute to my brother Lloyd. He was my co-writer of A Timely Dream and No Time For Rules. He passed peacefully in his sleep on 26th May after a short but aggressive battle with cancer.
He is the reason I started writing my first novel, A Timely Dream. I wasn’t confident about writing fiction; I thought it would be much harder inventing characters and plots than writing about fun anecdotes while working in aged care. I sent him a short story of about 300 words, to see what he thought. Did my ‘voice’ have a scope? He saw the potential to expand on it. I wasn’t game at the time, and he was disappointed that I declined his suggestion to write a story with him. But after some more thought, I saw the possibilities. From that moment on, the button was pushed, the green light shone brightly, and we started writing, brainstorming, and each other flicking texts, messages, and emails as the ideas popped.
It was the weirdest collaboration. I was living in South Canterbury, NZ, and he was in NSW, Australia. A Trans-Tasman team effort. We put pages and chapters together via email and messenger. Halfway through writing, at about 100 pages, we realised it was going to be a substantial read. It had started off as a fun exercise; as if to say, “let’s see what we’ve got.”
We’d never written together before, and I’d never written more than a diary or emails. Lloyd had been writing creatively for years. He was 15 years older than me and had far more experience in stringing written words and storylines together. I was the rookie.
Lloyd came up with the title, A Timely Dream, and we agreed that this story was too good to just put in a folder and back on the shelf. The characters were coming to life, they felt like part of the family. The plot was thickening. It was a ‘pantser’…definitely writing by the seat of our pants, with no clue what the next chapter would bring. But oh the excitement, writing about a fictitious world! So much fun! Our first novel was completed in 7 months, and 2 days.
Lloyd searched publishers; we found one in London. That was a long way from home, but they were very keen to take us on. We paid our fee, as being newbies and unknown, we were high risk but we got our story published. We were ecstatic.
We knew nothing of the world of writing, publishing, and marketing. We again flew by the seat of our pants, thrilled to have finished our first collaboration. Five months later, I was tapping my fingers, the euphoria had worn off and I was ready to write something else. But what? A Timely Dream was only ever going to be a one-off. We brainstormed ideas for a new story but hit brick walls. Lloyd suggested we carry on with A Timely Dream, from where we left off. The characters were ready to go. There were oodles of potential plots and subplots. So we did.
This time around, I had a better grip on word flow and structure, so Lloyd stepped back and I wrote just over half of No Time For Rules, with his input of course. At times we couldn’t agree on the direction of the story. We finished Book 2 in just over a year.
During Book 2, Lloyd was also thinking about a story he wanted to write on his own; a completely different genre. So with Book 3, Local Time, he had lost interest and had moved on to his own story. I planned the timeline, subplots, and backstories, bought in new characters, expanded on the existing cast of colourful locals, and threw everything into it. Three years later, Local Time was ready to publish.
If it weren’t for Lloyd, I would not have tried to write fiction. I would never have known how much fun it was. He nudged me to give it a go. I still have much to learn; the art of writing is an evolving craft. But I don’t think it’s about learning everything, it’s about the journey, and getting there.
Lloyd loved a good debate or a discussion on the topics of the day. He questioned the quirks of our world, he wanted to know ‘why’, and accepted what made no sense or what he couldn’t change. He was a keen gardener and adored his partner. He loved to read, and he watched a variety of documentaries and British dramas on TV. He loved op-shopping. He was a valued member of his local community in the Southern Highlands, NSW.
Lloyd’s funeral is this Wednesday, 1st June. We will put this man with a curious mind, to rest. Gone too soon, leaving behind debates to discuss, roses to prune, and life to enjoy. Rest in Peace, big brother ❤
❤ Lloyd Hopkins 20.4.1944 – 26.5.2022 ❤
2 thoughts on “A Tribute”
Oh Fleur… it is with much sadness I read you have lost your beloved brother. My sincere condolences. Like your Lloyd, my own brother Ken has been of enormous support and encouragement with my writing too. You will miss Lloyd so much. Take care, Denise.
Thank you Denise, it feels very weird to think he is no longer around. The realness will kick in on Wednesday at his funeral. We had fun writing, then when he could see I was gaining confidence and my writing was improving, he took off my trainer wheels and told me I could do it and to go for it. But he gave me the prod to try. I’m forever grateful to him for that.