Archive for July, 2008

Yay! I’m in the zone!

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

It’s taken me weeks to find my way into drafting the new book. There are two different voices in it, and I’m not used to that. I’ve always written a straightforward narrative in the first person and that person’s always been a girl. I didn’t think I could do anything else. This time, though, I need to tell the story from two different points of view, and in two historical periods, and using a young man as well as a teenage girl – so no pressure, huh?

It took me quite a while to find the girl’s voice, but I finally did that a few weeks ago. She’s a much spikier person than I’d thought she would be, but I’m amused and intrigued by how she’s turning out.

But until this week, the other voice still eluded me. I’d try drafting one of his chapters and it just didn’t sound right: it was as though he hadn’t come alive, and I just couldn’t hear what he was saying. It’s been incredibly frustrating.  But last Monday afternoon I visited the Royal Horticultural Society library in London, and came across one particular book of the right period and location. And it was an amazing transformation – like a light coming on. 

So, I’ve found my man! I can’t think about much else, and I can’t stop trying to get him down on paper. I know this delight won’t last – there’ll be many other difficulties and disappointments ahead. But right now? It’s a complete joy. I wouldn’t trade places – or computers – with anyone. 

Cate, Kate, Kyra, Crissi

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Who ever knew that naming characters would be such an elaborate evolution? Not me, when I started writing.

It was hard with my first novel, ‘The Truth About Josie Green’. I’d originally called the main character Jamie Waters, but my publisher wanted a name that was more obviously a girl’s, and we went through a whole stack of them before hitting the one that seemed right to everyone: Josie Green. And that’s the thing – you do know when you’ve found the right one, however long it takes. 

It was a lot easier with the last book, ‘Everything I Know About You’. I heard someone call out to a little boy on Primrose Hill when I was trying to find Eric’s name – and I knew immediately that it was his. Bex (short for Rebecca, the Australian au pair) was harder to find, but my friend Jon did that for me. And in the same book, Lizzie was always Lizzie, right from the start. 

With the new book, the one I’m writing now, it was tricky because of an earlier draft of the story that I tried to write a few years ago. In that first version I called the main character Cate – but that was before I’d used up the name ‘Kate’ in ‘Secrets, Lies and my Sister Kate’. So when I came back to the idea of this new book I couldn’t use Cate any more, but I knew I wanted a similar sound. I tried ‘Kyra’ and ‘Cassie’ for a while, but they never felt exactly right. And then I met Crissi Blair in New Zealand in March, and I knew her name was the one! She was fine about letting me use it, too. Thanks, Crissi.



And here’s the baby robin

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Yeah, I know this isn\'t the actual baby robin, in fact it\'s only a model of a baby robin, but it\'s the only image I could find that showed what the one in the garden looks like.

And yeah, I know this isn’t a real robin. It’s just a model of a robin but it’s the only image I could find that looks like the baby in the garden. 

The triumph of the leeks

Friday, July 4th, 2008

So far, so terrific on the veggie garden front. All the baby leeks are flourishing, some of the little sprout and broccoli plants have grown so fast they need stakes, and even the battered-by-slugs baby plants are perking up again. The beans have all rushed up their poles, and the seedlings have all developed new leaves. So we’ve removed the netting and the plastic slug guards, cut back on the coffee grounds, and crossed our fingers.

And there’s a baby robin in the gardens – although I only thought it was a robin because of how it behaves. It doesn’t have the characteristic adult colouring yet, and its speckled chest makes you think of thrushes more than anything else. But it’s a robin size and shape, and it flies in whenever we’re digging and perches expectantly nearby, cocking its head in that robin-y way, so I looked it up in a bird book. It’s a lot tamer than its parents, and we can only hope that it will survive in an urban world of cats, rats and cars.