Image via Wikipedia
Once upon a time, there was an art conservator who was given a new job. At first, it did not strike her as different from all the other jobs she had done. She restored large numbers of paintings, and holy icons that bore the likeness of saints were nothing new. What was so special about this one? The curator in charge of the picture needed everything explained to him. Why did they send a novice with this important-looking artefact? Everything about this job was strange, including the x-rays they took and the technical images that popped up on her computer.
The conservator soon found out what it was: another picture, hidden for many long centuries, was stuck underneath the one she could see. Why was it hidden, and by whom? She needed some explanation for this mystery, and the curator could only come up with answers she could find for herself. Or so she thought. Finding symbols that needed deciphering was not rare, but these were very unusual. And it seemed that there was someone else who thought so too. Someone, perhaps, whose footsteps could be heard following hers as she walked home through the silent winding streets of Venice, at the dead of night.
Telling a story to describe a story is the perfect way to describe how my forthcoming book starts. Even though you can access Chapter One and read it free on my website, telling it in this way brings a new kind of excitement to me too. Is it possible to be excited about a book that has shared my days for the last two years or so? It dogged my waking moments, baffled my efforts to plot it neatly, defeated my struggle to tell the story smoothly... but I got there in the end.
I re-wrote it several times, and even had to add a whole character one time, with the almost impossible task of weaving him seamlessly through the whole book so no one would notice he was an afterthought!
The book is now out of my hands, and instead of feeling baffled and defeated - which was something that went away when I found that the several re-writes had worked - I feel deflated and bereft. I can't play with it any more. I can't fiddle and re-work and re-write and edit. It's gone off and is in the hands of others as they design, collate and format it for the first print. The characters are what the characters are. The locations are there. It's going to be set in the concrete of publication.
So the story will be told, and readers will, I hope, benefit from the telling. I have striven for a satisfying ending, one that - with some effort - ties up all the ends. And there were many! Entertainment was my aim: and the creation of atmospheres, for readers to enjoy a vicarious trip through some romantic locations and startling situations.
Now one problem remains: how do I conjure the same feeling in my next book? Where shall I find my characters? And where shall I put them? What story shall I tell?