Friday, October 10, 2014

Unlocking the Story

10th October 2014

This last week I turned the final (for now) rewrite of the sequel to my published book over to my agent who is currently in Frankfurt for the international book fair. Unfortunately, he will not be able to flog my published book, because in the initial contract with the publisher we gave up all rights but the motion picture rights. This is fairly common - when you are an unknown writer trying to find a buyer in that great unknown sea of big publishing, you would practically sell your body, and don't think twice about foreign rights. Brazil did step forward early on and bought the rights for translation into Brazilian Portugese (what they will do with the Gaelic is anybody's guess!)
I've been wondering how the various translations of the title might look: Le Voile du Temps? Der Schleier der Zeit? El Velo del Tiempo? Den Sloja av Tid? My vote goes for the French, which lends it a certain mystique. But only the languages with an archaic indigenous precursor are going to be able to handle the Gaelic. Spanish could use Latin, I suppose, though that might conjure pictures of Roman legions marching through Scotland in squads - a little different from the druidesses and stone circles the early Gaelic suggests.

So, with my sequel out of the way and with no immediate plans for Book 3 in the series, I am more than excited to be beginning a new book. This isn't exactly new, but one of my first. This is "Hazel and the Chessmen," about a young American woman who gets caught up in the plan of a Scottish nationalist (a surly but attractive Scottish nationalist!) to steal back the Lewis Chess pieces from the British Museum in London. It has long been in my plans to rewrite this story in the first person, because I think readers were having a hard time getting into my protagonist Hazel's head as long as the narration was in the third person.
But now I am back from Scotland after the failed referendum for independence, with all this disappointment and even anger.  All that energy has to go somewhere, and now I see I can recast the story in the times of the referendum, giving the plot a whole new level of intensity. I am fired up and working long hours (for me.)

That's what writing is all about anyway - not about politics in the first instance, but about harnessing those rivers that are moving and move you. I wouldn't have set out to write a book around the referendum, but since I had already written the story, it's just about angling it differently. Paul Harding said at the seminar I took from him, that sometimes just the addition of one word or one sentence can alter the cast of the whole story, so that you unlock something you hadn't seen before and you can literally hear the tumblers turning and everything just falling into place. Here's the writer with a Kaleidoscope of words, just turning the instrument round one more notch.


  1. When is the sequel due to be published? My friend and I read your novel together and were riveted! We cannot wait to read the second book :) (to Veil of Time)

    1. Thanks for your kind words! I think the publisher (Simon & Schuster) is waiting to see how many copies of the first book sells before launching the sequel. (If you'd like to drop them a note, it might help!) But it is all written and waiting in my agent's office, so whenever they give me the thumbs up, I will be quick out of the starting gate! Thank you!