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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Flowers For The Dead and a Guinness World Record – strange but true! #writerslife

I feel as though part of my book has come to life and stepped from the page

Recently, a Guinness World Record holder got in touch with me about Flowers For The Dead. Why? Well, believe it or not, there’s a link between the two that may surprise you…

When I was creating the character of Adam, from Flowers For The Dead, I knew he had to be a complex person – how else would I stand a chance of making people understand why he did the terrible things he did? After all, there aren’t many serial killers you can empathise with. His journey from innocent child to a stalker who kills the women he loves is the backbone of the book, but in addition to his history, I also gave him a number of hobbies to illustrate not only his intelligence but also that constant, driven insecurity has given him, courtesy of his parents’ judgements.

He forced himself to stay in control with his exercises, with his hobbies, even with his matching clothes and neat and tidy bedroom. They helped him keep a lid on his anger so that he could think clearly. That meticulous mind, so good at seeing how to fix problems with clocks and computers, so patient at sowing seeds in his garden then waiting for them to grow, oh, so slowly, was working on the problem of his mother all the time now.

I imagined him working out on his own all the time, always pushing himself to the limit after being laughed at by his father for being weak – and I decided burpees would be one of his favourite exercises. They’re hard work, as you go from standing, down into a push up, jump your feet back below your shoulders, and stand again. Out of curiosity, I wondered how many it was possible to do, and looked up the World Record.

The amount was staggering – 10,105 burpees in 24 hours! The man who had done it was an American called Cameron Dorn, who had found a very different inspiration from Adam – he wanted to raise funds for disadvantaged children. What a stunning achievement (particularly as I’d be hard pushed to manage one!). I was so impressed that I just HAD to mention it in Flowers For The Dead.

The push-up burpees are Adam’s favourite, as even when he is away from home they are easy to fit into his routine and keep him strong. Last year, whilst bored because he had no one to love, he had read about a burpee world record set by a man named Cameron Dorn, who had performed ten thousand one hundred and five burpees in twenty-four hours. Out of curiosity, Adam had broken it, achieving ten more. He had not bothered telling anyone, of course, it had been enough for him to know that he had the mental and physical strength to do it. His father would have been so proud.

Recently, a friend of Cameron’s read Flowers For The Dead and was amazed to see him mentioned. Cameron got in touch to let me know how cool he thought it was – and also that he’d raised over £17,000 for those children. Incredible! He now has a signed copy of Flowers For The Dead on his book shelf. As for me, I feel as though part of my book has come to life and stepped from the page – it was an amazing and rather surreal feeling to chat with Cameron.

If you’d like to know more about Cameron and his amazing achievement, click here.

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