It’s an unsettling time. The true meaning of that depends on where you live. For me, in England, every time I think about the news, my gut feels like it’s been dropped from the white cliffs of Dover. In Ukraine, it’s more literal. They are giving up their homes, losing their lives, facing bleak choices we’d believed consigned to the last century. It forces me to ask, why write about a war in America that started over one-hundred and sixty years ago? There is war now.
The truth is though, people do. In the same way we judge a plate of food before we taste it, a house by a front door, a company by a logo. Heck, when out walking my impeccably well-behaved Golden Doodle, Duffy (see The Dog Days of April) I’ll judge a dog from 80 yards by the tilt of its owner’s hat and reroute accordingly.
36 ° 6’ N, 4 ° 44’ W. This is where I was when I finished my second novel, The Copper Road. I always like to know where I am. My first degree was in geography so perhaps that’s why. I finished the book on August 28th. For me, the when is not quite so important, although I do like a good milestone.
As part of my US blog tour, Jenny Quinlan at ‘Let Them Read Books’ asked me if I had any real life inspiration for the main character in Whirligig. He is called Shire. I was happy to answer, involving as it does a connection to my father, but the question has stayed with me these last couple of weeks. I think I underestimated the gift my father left me.
A very different creative experience this week. Inspired by a couple of book trailers on Amy Bruno’s Historical Fiction site (on which I will be appearing in July) I decided I’d try my hand at a video. My hand pointed out it had never tried anything like this before so I roped in my friend, Steve Harris, who has all the appropriate skills and gadgets. By Friday last, we were sat together on location (in Steve’s study) in front on an unfeasibly large monitor and I got to do some creative...
‘What’s a Whirligig?’ It’s the most common question I’m asked when discussing my novel, right up there with ‘What’s it about?’ and ‘How many have you sold?’ I often feel I make hard work of the answer, giving a longwinded and rather literary answer.
I never met Colonel Samuel Emerson Opdycke, but I’d like to say he’s a friend of mine. Earlier this month I wrote a piece for Georgia based Historical-Fiction.com about a writer’s dilemma when it comes to representing history within fiction. It prompted me to think a little deeper about the particular ‘relationship’ I form with historical figures. To be frank, it’s all a little one-sided.
I’ve been learning to co-habit with my novel, Whirligig. We’ve moved in together. There are two copies now, a third having moved out after a brief stay. It’s weird. I’ll wander into the lounge and there they’ll be, lounging. Or they might have found their separate ways to the study or the kitchen.
While I love writing in my study, it’s easy to get stale looking out over the same garden every day, so this Saturday I attended a short story masterclass run by the wonderful Melanie Whipman at her home in the Surrey Hills. What always amazes me about attending masterclasses, book readings or workshops is how easy it is to quickly find something that resonates with your own work in progress.