Friday, July 26, 2013

The Thinker

26th July 2013

Last week I sent the final copy-edit for my book Veil of Time back to my editor at S&S, and this week I got to review what will go in a section at the back of the book created for book clubs. It includes a summary of the book followed by questions to think about, like Do you believe Maggie is just having vivid dreams of the 8th century or is there more to this?  Discuss Maggie's role as a mother. Discuss Maggie's relationship with her neighbour Jim Galvin. Do you think Maggie herself might be a witch? It was odd picturing people discussing my book at all. For so long it has been something with a life only in my computer or my agent's or editor's.
The funnest part of this task was answering a Q&A, in which I was able to lay out my agenda for the book,  its background, my hopes and fears. I hear authors say time and again how it is all up to the reader what he or she makes of their book. Well, I don't agree. If you look at Rodin's Thinker, it is not possible that he is pondering a good pick-up line for the Venus De Milo ("Have no fear, I am perfectly 'armless.") No. Rodin made him that way to show that he is thinking about the deep dark questions. He is probably musing on the vastness of the universe or how to construe time to encorporate all of experience not just the linear logical aspect. He's probably wondering about man's inhumanity to man, and how the evolution of man fits into any scheme at all. The Thinker is not open to much latitude in terms of interpretation. Likewise, the Mona Lisa is not supposed in a moment of prescience, to be thinking, "One day Dan Brown will reveal all." Moby Dick, no matter how you turn it,  is not about the divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood.
My book is written with certain values behind it, with a schemata that has to do with my place in the world as an author. If someone says to me, "Well, the way I read it your book is an allegory for the rise and fall of white supremacy," (actually, come to think of it....), or, say, "The Veil of Time is a book about the evils of the Dark Ages," I am going to say, "You've missed the point, my dear," because there is a point, and in my Q&A at the back of the book I take pains to make sure that is clear. "You vill read zis book as I intended or you vill answer to me!"
One of the questions I had to answer was on the nature of time, and so I was able to say that this isn't really a book about time travel in the sense that HG Wells' "The Time Machine," was. No one is climbing into a contraption with bells and whistles and a whirly thing overhead. Maggie is simply making a time shift. According to quantum mechanics, the possibility of moving around in time cannot be ruled out. Stephen Hawking tried and couldn't. The linear model of time doesn't work anymore, and no physicist thinks it does. So, as far as time travel books go, we are in a different era.
In another question, they asked me where history ends in my creation of this story and imagination begins. I was able to say that the distinction is not so clear. As my protagonist says in the book, "History is a selective bastard." They don't call it his-story for no reason.
"Are you working on any new novels, a sequel perhaps?" was the final question. This was a good opportunity to put the word out that there will be a sequel (unless my publisher hates it.) I even gave the title. Druid Hill. I am close to finishing it, and will do so once I get the screenplay of "Veil of Time" up to scratch. I was watching the movie of The DaVinci Code this week, and it made me realise how much I don't want someone else turning my book into a film. So I am imagining actors for the roles and re-writing the script. Just in case. I wouldn't hand it over to just anyone, even for good money. But there are a few directors out there who understand the value of the writer.
I have to get the summer out of the way, too. Summer is very distracting, too hazy for proper thinking, too sleepless, too full of plans and gardens and dogs that pay no heed to this human occupation of pen pushing. They have it right.

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