Sorry that not a lot has been happening on the site. My publisher and I have finished the last tweaks and I have to say: I’m very, very pleased with the final product. I went through the whole book (with the northern hemisphere seasons and months in front of me) and checked that it wasn't endless winter or endless summer for our dear Fleance. I also had to work out birthdays: Fleance was born June 22nd 1032; Duncan also born 1032; Rachel, 1034 and Rosie Sept 1035.
When I was first given this story (in a dream), I had thought the action would take place in less than a year. But, as I wrote it, I thought maybe there was too much going on and it would have to span a couple of years. Yet, the whole thing is only about eight months - poor Fleance! He has to cope with a lot in that time: love, loss, attacks, disappointment, decisions, battles, death and love again. Blame Fleur *grin* because, at the start, she kept reminding me to be mean.
Re-reading the manuscript brought lots of emotion: there were the lovely moments when I forgot that I’d actually written the book and went to myself: that is so cool. Or, I read a piece, like on Wednesday, and looked up and said to Penny, ‘Calum is such a creep!’ Penny grinned and we had an interesting conversation about what we are going to do with him.
As you know, I agonised over the battles scenes (and had some great constructive criticism from Annie W) so it was with delight that a new reader of the manuscript said: those battle scenes - wow! so exciting. I actually hate blood and guts and hurt and sadness yet they all appear often in my works.
To show you what I mean, let me illustrate: yesterday (Sat), I spent in a shearing shed north of Dunedin helping out a member of our church who runs a shearing gang. I’d helped him out a couple of weekends ago and did so again. It was hard work and hard seeing the sheep cut many times by the blades. I had been, in my youth, fortunate enough to work with gangs who were professional shearers (i.e. participated in shearing competitions which meant a cut sheep did not count for the total) so it was a shock to see some of the injuries these poor creatures endured. There was even one who had a prolapsed uterus (this means her WHOLE uterus has come out) but the shearing went on never-the-less. And, another, who had part of her back rotted through past injury? shearing injury? so that I had to take the whole section of wool and dump it.
I’ve included this detail in the blog because, despite my gruesome descriptions of battle, I actually hate blood-shed. That’s why movies like ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Atonement’, ‘Band of Brothers’, ‘Schindler’s List’, ‘Platoon’ I tried to avoid. I’m sorry to say, I’ve seen them all (after putting off the viewing for many years). Why? Because man's inhumanity to man grieves my heart. Great movies; great stories. But.
Anyway, I’ve just to send a copy of the map of ancient Scotland and England to Penguin and then await the page proofs. If I hadn’t written this story, I would say to everyone, this is an amazing story – up there with Harry Potter, Eragon, Twilight, Maximum Ride – all of them great stories. So, because I’ve penned it, I guess I can’t say it is so (but others are – he he).
I'm now writing the second book (in the trilogy). Hate what I'd proposed for the title. Will need to work on that.
Anyway, only a couple of months before the book lands in your hands. Can't wait.