The Greatest Song I've Ever Heard
|Title:||The Greatest Song I've Ever Heard|
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- Word Count: 3300
- Genre: Short Story - Slash, older lads no longer together
- Rating: M
- Pairing: Bodie/Doyle
- Warnings: Some people might consider this a death story.
- Summary: Bodie has something to tell Doyle. Set about 1994
Comments by the Author
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to discuss the writing process and ideas behind one of my stories. I’ve included a couple of additional notes at the end because I do tend to waffle on and get side tracked. They are ‘optional extras’ if anyone is really keen to read more.
In a note I wrote when I first posted the story on Lj, I said: “I'm excited about this one, because I think it's the best thing I've written since coming back to writing after 'The Long Break’”
Although I’d been writing slash since about 1996/7 I hadn’t written anything for about 5 years and only returned late in 2008 after being lured back to writing by The Man From Uncle. By early 2009 I had written four short Pros fic, none of which I considered anything special. I looked on them more as a way to familiarise myself with and get the feel of the characters. Two contained fairly ‘stock’ plots and scenarios and two were humorous quasi-crossovers. When I came to write Greatest Song, I hoped it was fairly original ground. [Note 1]
The idea for this story was conceived while I was writing A Taste For It, although Greatest Song was written and posted long before ATFI was finished. [Note 2] I wondered, given Bodie’s undercover role and the time in which ATFI was set, what the possible long term consequences would be. AIDS was a very real danger in the late 70s and early 80s and it would be years before any possible exposure was discovered. The idea become so intriguing that I sat down and wrote Greatest Song in a very short space of time. Although the idea for Greatest Song came from ATFI, it wasn’t written as a sequel or postscript to ATFI. The stories are in no way connected and don’t share the same events.
I was aware during writing that the subject matter, the lads not being together, Bodie having AIDS and Doyle being married with kids, would not appeal to all readers, BUT it was the chance to explore this scenario that compelled me to write. I knew the lack of a ‘happily ever after’ would also disappoint some readers. Personally, I enjoy reading and writing angst because to me, it’s a very real part of life. I think it’s often easier to write a happy ending than to really move readers with angst, to make them genuinely feel for the characters and the situation they are in. I love to read stories that make me feel and this is one of the things I tried to achieve with Greatest Song.
I saw the Ray Doyle of the future looking for a home and family. In ‘Takeaway’ it doesn’t take him long to set up house with the female agent and look the picture of domesticity, and that was just as part of an undercover assignment! Bodie, on the other hand looks positively uncomfortable in the one glimpse we have of him ‘domesticated’ with his school teacher girlfriend in ‘The Gun’. So Ray would search out home and family and when he found it, I could see him and Bodie drifting apart.
The character of Samantha was sort of an Ann Holly type with a splash of Sam Carter from SG1 thrown in. I wanted a strong character because I don’t think Doyle would go for a door mat. It would have been easy to make her a ‘villain’ but then there would have been no moral dilemma for Doyle and Bodie to face. Again, if there were no children involved, Doyle’s path forward for a happy ending with Bodie would have been far simpler. Doyle has a lot at stake and so his reaction to Bodie’s news is coloured by all he has to lose. He’s thinking of himself and his family, not Bodie, which, to me, was the most realistic reaction.
Bodie, on the other hand, finally accepts that he may have been partially to blame for the ill feeling that exists between himself and Samantha. Although Bodie feels a bit sorry for himself, he is also trying to make peace with the world around him and seeing his own faults is the beginning of the process. We see this again towards the end of the story where he contemplates visiting Murphy to see how he is and show him there are no hard feelings.
At this point, I should probably point out that I didn’t write Greatest Song with the idea the lads would get back together. It was meant to be a bitter-sweet parting, a final goodbye, leaving Bodie with his regrets but knowing he did the best thing by leaving Doyle to get on with the life he had chosen. The story was about goodbyes. To me, a story doesn’t stop at the end of the page and for every story I’ve written I’ve always had ideas on what happened afterwards. I like to leave things open, not only for myself but also for the reader to ponder. The idea for the sequel, When All Is Said And Done, came about because of readers’ responses. It was readers who saw the ending, where Bodie catches a glimpse of the old Ray driving past in his aging Escort and thinks ‘miracles really could happen’ as suggesting that there was hope of them getting back together. This surprised me somewhat because my intent was to show that Bodie had not given up hope for himself and that AIDS did not have to be a death sentence. [Note 3]
Whilst writing the story I realised how little I actually knew about AIDS, HIV and it's progress. I always do research for my stories so I set about reading as much as I could and then translating it into a simple explanation as Bodie tells Ray what’s happened [there is more of this in the sequel story]
I’ve never been good at choosing titles for my stories and have resorted to song titles in the past. A song can often give an extra dimension to a story if the reader knows the lyrics, in much the same way that theme music can add to a film. This song was a bit obscure, but it had been a favourite of mine since I first heard it back in the early 70s and it matched so well with the sentiments of the story. It was easy to bring in a couple of small details from the song to make it even more fitting. You can find it on You Tube. It’s by the New Seekers.
When I posted Greatest Song to my Lj, I included a separate post with a warning that the story dealt with AIDS. The initial warning was that the story was NOT a death fic although some people might view it that way. I know there has been a lot of discussion recently about what should or should not be included in warnings. Being fairly new to Lj at the time I was a bit confused as to what exactly the warning rules were so thought I’d better cover all bases. Personally, I loath warnings. [Note 4]
In closing, I’ll say thanks for reading, both the story and my ramblings. There is a sequel, When All Is Said And Done, although I prefer the first story as it was originally intended as a stand alone.Questions? Comments? Criticisms? I’m open to all and have tough skin :-)