Background to The Treeman, by Kaye Vincent


I have an infuriating habit of coming up with new ideas in the middle of trying to develop a previous one. My musical collaborator, Kaye Tompkins, usually rolls her eyes and nods until I've finished ranting. Then we get back to work.

The Treeman was one of these. The first imagining was as a stage show, a musical. I said "Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a man in a tree outside a girl's window. He lives rough and they hate each other at first. Then when the audience come back in for Act 2, the stage has revolved, and she's begun to fuss over him. His tree is now festooned with all the mod cons of modern life!" Kaye T smiled and returned to the opening number of the musical we were writing.

The Treeman was originally a reclusive tramp who teaches the stressed girl to see the world around her. Likewise he learns from her to engage again and finally emerges from his tree - still raw, but ready to live once more. The Treeman, Jay, eventually evolved into a very different character, with a strain of gypsy magic in his soul. But the relationship between him and the uptight Izzy stayed true.

It also became obvious that other characters wanted in. This always happens - I have no control over the cast list, they decide for themselves. Sometimes the voices are so loud the only option is to write them down or take medication! The breadth no longer seemed feasible for stage and I decided to write a musical TV script. Slightly brave eh..?

And I did too. The entire story of The Treeman emerged in its first form as a highly visual, music inspired, 3-hour TV special (I really wanted a 6-10 episode series, but I'm not daft...). However, in the current climate, with shrinking budgets for TV drama, it didn't feel like a good time to push this material as a new TV dramatist.

So what to do? I set about the novel instead. And finally found the medium where I could fully explore the lush story of Izzy, Jay, Jules and Jodie. Such bliss! Here the romance and suspense had a chance to grow gradually, and the minor characters could stamp their claim. Hanningdon became real and the characters became my lifelong friends. And although it had always been a single story, I now saw pathways for these people to continue. A trilogy took form and The Hanningdon Magic Series was born. Book two, The River Girl is now in development and I feel I have come home again. All the old characters are back and one or two newbies to shake things up. Loving every second...

The Treeman:

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