This Writing Life

Shannon asked me about the new book I’m working on, so I composed a long blog post on the subject, complete with jokes and a cool photograph of a turtle. But then I read over it and realised I didn’t feel comfortable revealing that much detail about a writing project that’s at such an early stage, it doesn’t even have a title, let alone a publisher.

So I deleted the post.

But it wasn’t a complete waste of time, because I also realised that writing that post had made me feel more confident about this new book. After I finished The FitzOsbornes at War, I flipped through my mental catalogue of Ideas For Books and decided I needed to write something that would not be the start of a series, would not be a complicated family saga, would not include scenes of heart-rending anguish, and would not require much research. This next book would be fun and easy to write!

Of course, it hasn’t turned out quite the way I’d expected. I’ve spent the past six months compiling a vast folder of notes and diagrams and photocopies, but feel I’ve barely started on the research. It isn’t a complicated family saga, but at the heart of the story is a mystery that requires far more complicated plotting than I’ve ever before attempted. It was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, but I already have ideas for a sequel and I’m not even sure the book would be best described as a ‘novel’. Plus, there’s at least one scene of heart-rending anguish.

But as I wrote the blog post, which was in the form of a dialogue between the two main characters, I realised that I actually knew quite a lot about how the whole thing would fit together. I knew most of the facts I needed to know, and even better, I could see what I still didn’t know and I knew how to find out what I needed. The best part, though, was that as the two characters argued and joked and talked over the top of one another, I could hear their voices in my head just as clearly as I used to hear the FitzOsbornes. I could see the two girls waving their hands about and rolling their eyes at each other – I even laughed out loud at one of their jokes (yes, their joke, not mine). And that’s when I thought that I might actually be able to write this book, and that made me very happy.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t really answer Shannon’s question, but I will say that the book is about science and history, and it’s set in Sydney, and I wrote a bit about it here.

On a slightly different topic, I’ve noticed that a tiny corner of Tumblr has been taken over by some FitzOsborne fans, who have set up a blog devoted to Montmaray. There are some fabulous graphics based on the books, as well as a film trailer that looks so professional that, for a moment, I wondered if I’d absent-mindedly sold the film rights to the BBC, then forgotten about it. However, I think my favourite fannish creation is this post, which sorts the FitzOsborne cousins into Hogwarts Houses and gets it exactly right. It doesn’t include Henry FitzOsborne, but she is obviously in Gryffindor. I’m not sure about Carlos – Hufflepuff or Gryffindor? Aunt Charlotte would simply refuse to let that grubby old hat touch her head, then would stalk out to set up a Thestral racing syndicate (Minister for Magic: But . . . but we can’t permit those creatures to race each other! Half the spectators wouldn’t even be able to see which Thestral won! Aunt C: I shall announce the winner of each race. Now get out of my way, you silly little man.) As for the other characters, Rupert is clearly pure Hufflepuff, but what about Daniel – Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw? Would Julia end up in Slytherin or Gryffindor? Anyway, I love how those characters have wandered out of the books and into the imaginations of some readers. That’s what makes writing so rewarding, when the books take on a life of their own. It makes up for all those times when I was writing the Montmaray books and felt daunted and discouraged and wondered why I kept plodding on. It’s because eventually the books get finished, and they find a reader or two to love them.

And that’s what I keep reminding myself, as I work on this new book.

2 thoughts on “This Writing Life”

  1. It’s so exciting to see that you’ve stumbled upon our little corner. Truthfully I’m rather star struck (author struck?) just knowing you’ve watched the trailer! We all love the books SO much and thank you for creating these wonderful characters 🙂

    1. I’m flattered that the books have inspired such creative pieces of art! I’ll try to stay out of your way, though – I’m sure most fandoms are happier having fun by themselves, without the author butting in.

      But this is a good opportunity for me to remind fans in general about the Three Golden Rules of Creating Fannish Works: 1) It’s polite to acknowledge the source/canon material, and 2) Don’t break whatever laws exist in your country, such as copyright (for example, fanfic is fine; downloading pirated copies of copyrighted books isn’t). Breaking the second rule means you’re likely to bring the wrath of publishers down upon your heads, and nobody wants that. Because the third Golden Rule of Creating Fannish Works is: Have fun.

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