One of the main threads in my current novel is the friendship between Joseph Ventre (protagonist) and the young Bella Moretta. As much as I enjoy the research and the historical elements when writing this book, developing Joseph and Bella’s friendship has been and will continue to be my most favourite part!
I remember, as a child, reading books such as The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and the friendships within those stories made me want to jump right into the pages and be with Mary, Dicken, and Colin as they discovered the garden, or ramble through the fields of Avonlea with Anne Shirley and Diane. Similar to these examples of famous literary friendships, Joseph and Bella are two very different personalities; Joseph being timid and sensible, whereas Bella has a feisty, mischievous streak to her character. As the author, this is the fun part for me, balancing the two and ensuring that the reader will feel their relationship develop in, hopefully, a beautiful way, particularly as they navigate the war-torn streets of Liverpool together.
The ultimate goal for me is to keep their internal threads connected so the reader wills them both on, to succeed, to win. I want people to root for these two young characters and although it’s fictional, maybe real-life friendships could be strengthened along the way too.
It’s been Wimbledon overload the past week or so on my social media and I was lucky enough to be on Centre Court last Friday (in the stands that is… only in my dreams do I don fresh whites and play a 5-setter!)
I went along with my Dad who got me interested in the game a few years ago, although he’s been playing for many, many years. However, there was a period of time when he didn’t play at all. Life happened. But about six years ago he joined our local club and rekindled his love for the game.
Whilst enjoying our strawberries and cream in the sunshine of SW19, I thought about how we go through life awakening different skills and passions within us, perhaps allowing said things to dwindle. But, when the time comes, there’s something so joyful about reigniting the flame and remembering how good it makes you feel. Whether it’s a physical skill, like Dad and his tennis, or drawing, painting, or picking up that jigsaw that’s collected dust, you feel better for it don’t you?! I feel great every time I finish another draft of my novel, pen a new poem, or take a photo worthy of a place on the mantel piece.
I felt this feeling from the professional players we watched at Wimbers. One player is in a ‘comeback’ phase of his career, so even though he trains with the best of the best, it was clear to see that feeling of joy ooze from him, he fanned the growing flame, the excitement of winning one more point…
A simple thought really, but one for me to hold on to – dive back in your passion and keep your eye on the prize.
Last weekend we packed a small travel bag and escaped to North Wales for a beautiful weekend, surrounded by the most picturesque landscape and great friends. It was, quite simply, just what the doctor ordered! A reminder to myself that nature and being outdoors is so bloody good for you, as is taking time out of your normal routine and listening to your mind and body.
Here’s a few photographs of our daily views:
At one particular moment when wandering along the beach in the soft evening sun, I was reminded of The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. I’ve read this many a time but this seemed to be the right moment for me to dig it from the back of my mind.
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
After seeing this book on numerous coffee tables, I finally have it in my possession thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from a thoughtful family member.
. Letters of Note by Shaun Usher
I’m three pages in and have already re-read one particular letter a few times. From 1973, the author E. B. White responds to a gentleman after receiving a letter about the ‘bleakness of the human race’.
His words are comforting even today, in the sometimes frantic world we live in. I will be sure to keep this collection close to me and peruse in those moments of doubt.
Here’s to those people who feel themselves struggling for whatever reason, perhaps troubled… ‘hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.’
Dear Mr. Nadeau,
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society- things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbour seeds of goodness that have lain for a long to waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
After winning the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Award last year, The Power has been on my ‘to read’ list for a while now. Fellow readers were split in their opinion of the novel so I wanted to see for myself what it was all about.
It seemed quite apt that I started reading this around the time when the ‘Me Too’ movement ramped up a gear and dominated headlines. Most reviews call it speculative fiction, which seems correct considering the supernatural elements, but I was more interested in the world within the story where females have the absolute power over men and rule all aspects of society. Trying to imagine this was real life and ‘the way of things’ is a tricky thing to do given the history of all societies and cultures across the globe. It just doesn’t seem fathomable.
The more I read the more I focussed on the act of abusing power and not being able to come back from that point. All the main characters abuse their power at some stage of the novel; sometimes their intentions appear to be for the greater good, but mostly because their circumstances dictate them and for personal gain.
Thinking of all these accounts from female celebrities that have come out as part of the Me Too/Times Up campaigns whereby males have supposedly abused their power, how would things change if females in our world had the physical power to stop negative behaviours, as is such in the novel’s storyline.
The Power definitively provides food for thought through the dystopian style. Deep down I know I’d be slightly worried if I had the power that the character’s possess. God knows where I’d start with it all…
I think I’ll stick with developing my internal power and do my own little bit to change the world. Who needs an ‘electrical skein’ anyway when the females in my world simply have brilliantly powerful minds!
The novel I’m working on is set over 24 hours, from beginning to end, and I’m currently working my way through the second draft. Whilst editing this week (thanks to some annual leave from the day job), I started thinking more deeply about ‘time’ in writing, more specifically how to slow it down and balance pace for 24+ chapters…
This thought, tied in with a wee bit of procrastination (oops) led me somehow to a newspaper article about the recently absent clocks on one of The Liver building’s towers. Now if you’ve perused my website at all, you’ll know that the novel mentioned above is set in Liverpool and that the Liver Birds are an absolute focal point of the story. I suddenly didn’t feel so bad for mooching the internet instead of actually writing, it all became relative!
Over recent months it has been strange to see the building with only one clock face, particularly at night when the clocks, with their deep orange backgrounds, contribute to the magnificence that are the Three Graces of the waterfront. So, after having read many a different article, text book, quote etc. I began to think to myself, ‘take the clock out, disconnect it.’ By this I don’t mean the pace or the particular era in which it’s set, but the specific mentions of time throughout the story, the thing that appears to be jarring the process at the moment. Don’t worry about making sure the reader knows the specific, trust them, take the pressure away and the editing may just became a tad easier.
Disconnect the clock for now, fix the hands and the mechanics, set the pace right, and when it’s ready to go back in, all will tick along nicely…hopefully, that’ll be evident in draft number three!