Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Falling Leaves, Autumn Seas

When I write, the season creeps into the books and I've really noticed it this year. I started the contemporary strand in March, biting winds, sudden showers, bulbs up early. It was a good spring, and I think it was for Sage, too. I started the historical strand at the end of May and wrote through the heat of the summer, and something of the hot days and stormy nights fed into the narrative. The first full draft is done and off to my lovely agent. I wish I had more time to tidy it up before she reads it, but there just isn't time.

I used to love autumn, but it's filled with anniversaries so it's bitter sweet. We're enjoying wandering around RHS Rosemoor watching the flowers go over, laden with seedheads. The hedges are full of berries, and the 'old country folk' are predicting a hard winter (like the trees know in advance!). I've got two 'new country folk' observations: lots of berries means we had a good spring AND there will be lots of jam. 

The weeks between handing the book over and having to get down to a serious edit have been filled at least in part by the Appledore Book Festival - a celebration of all things literary and despite the small village setting, it had some really big hitters. The picture is by Becky Bettesworth, and is looking down Vernon's Lane to the sea via the Hockings van and the gigs. It captures this lovely village!

My favourites were Ian Rankin, Karen Maitland and Sandy Brown. I was stewarding both events Karen ran and bought her new book, The Plague Charmer, which I've just started. I should just mention that The Owl Killers got me into writing historical. She's also an enthusiastic speaker about her historical period - the first wave of plagues in the 1300s.

Ian Rankin's event was packed out, but he's always such a great speaker and I always learn something new. One of the things I was reminded of is the way he writes - no plan, no pre-arranged structure. He finds the story as he goes, and I think that's the main reason I have found writing A Shroud of Leaves so difficult. Having a structure already agreed made it impossible to include elements I really liked along the way. I don't know if A Shroud of Leaves works as well as A Baby's Bones yet because i'm too close to see it at the moment, but it was harder to write. I'm going to go back to rambling away finding the story, and I am following in giant's footsteps.