Monday, April 25, 2022

Just when you thought history was a thing of the past

 Some of you may remember the secret project I hinted at a few weeks ago. 


What, am I typing into the void here?

Don't answer that, the truth may make a grown man cry.

Seriously, I did drop a little hint in the middle of one of my meanderings but can now reveal what the tease was all about.

Basically, I've written an historical novel.

The genesis of this story goes back over 20 years ago - I'm not sure exactly how long but I think it was while I was writing my non-fiction book about the Edinburgh Tolbooth - the old town's jail, dubbed by Sir Walter Scott The Heart of Midlothian. I stumbled over a line in a book about a secret will that had perhaps bequeathed the nation to her half-brother, James Edward Stuart, who was living in exile on the Continent.
Over the following two decades I added characters, plot strands and background details to the mental file, because to actually note anything down would be too much like organisation and we don't do that in this house, no sir.
What I didn't do was actually begin to write the thing. 
Until last year, when the opening chapter of my last Rebecca Connolly book, 'A Rattle of Bones', which was set in the mid-18th century caught the eye of bestselling author Denzil Meyrick (we are contractually obliged to call him that, even when just meeting him in the street. His agent is tough, let me tell you).
Anyway, he is a huge fan of historical fiction and he urged me to try my hand at it. When I told him that I had one bubbling around in my head he practically ordered me to get it done. At first I scoffed at the notion. 
"I scoff at the notion," I said. Writing a chapter was one thing, but a whole novel? That was daunting.
But it stayed with me and I thought, what the hell - what harm would it do to give it the old college try?
Three months later I had a complete first draft. I don't think I've written anything so fast since the first Dominic Queste book 'The Dead Don't Boogie.' 
It was as if it had all been perched in whatever lobe of my brain controls this sort of thing, just waiting to leap onto the screen.
I'm calling it an historical adventure thriller crime spy story. With a bit of horror. And romance. I'm leaving little to chance here.
Seriously, it's designed as a swashbuckling, but sometimes dark, adventure thriller set against the underworld and political skulduggeries of 1715 and it will be the first in a new series featuring Jonas Flynt - thief, gambler and, when he needs to be, killer.
The book will be available in September 2022 from Canelo.
So - have I hijacked Type M for Murder to do some marketing?
Certainly not and perish the thought.
He said, hoping people will believe him.
There is a writing point to be made, too. And that is that writers should never throw any ideas away. Even material deleted from one manuscript can be of use in another - it wouldn't be the first time I've done that. You may not be ready to write a particular story immediately but who knows how you will feel further down the line. I believe Clint Eastwood sat on David Webb People's script for 'Unforgiven' until he was old enough to do it justice.  It's the same with storylines, or genres. Store them away.
Oh - and I would recommend actually writing them down. Perhaps do what I suggest, not what I do being the operative phrase here.


Donis Casey said...

Congratulations! I love historical! Natch, since that's what I write. I love the research because you can't make anything up that is as amazing as real life. Like you, long ago I read about an event that happened in Palestine in the early 1950s and it made such an impression on me that the event knocked around in my head for thirty years until I wrote a novel about it. That's the writer's brain for you.

Douglas Skelton said...

Thanks, Donis. I have taken certain liberties - I've fictionalised an incident that actually took place 20 years after my books was set, for instance.