Tag Archives: time

Mixed-Up, Muddled-Up

It’s Friday! So, that’s good news. In other good news, one of my best friends is coming to visit over the weekend, and I can’t wait to see her. In some further good news, I had my hair cut yesterday for the first time in three years (ahem), and it worked out rather well.

While I’m pleased with the end result, I now have two swingy-bangy bits of hair down either side of my face which are causing me a bit of consternation; I keep forgetting they’re there, so when they suddenly sweep down out of nowhere and waft into my line of vision, I tend to get a bit of a fright.

There you have it. A woman who is frightened of her own hair. What has the world come to?

Moving swiftly on. Today, I would like to talk about a book I recently read which seems to have caused very little in the way of a ‘splash’ in book-reviewing and book-blogging circles, which I think is a shame. It’s ‘Sorrowline’, written by Niel Bushnell. I believe it’s his first book, which makes the achievement all the greater.

Image: bookdepository.co.uk

Image: bookdepository.co.uk

I came across this book a few months ago when I googled the word ‘Timesmith’, which I was hoping to use in one of my own stories. I was hoping I’d be clever enough to have coined the term, but – of course – someone had got there before me! Niel Bushnell’s ‘Sorrowline’ is the first book in his ‘Timesmith Chronicles’, and it’s a really enjoyable read. It has only just been published – I’d been waiting for it for several months by the time I finally managed to buy it a couple of weeks ago – and it was worth the anticipation.

The central idea behind the book is that each person’s gravestone is connected to the day of their death by a ‘Sorrowline’ – a mysterious link made up of grief and memories, and in some cases the person’s fear and anger and pain at the time of their death – and a talented person can use this connection to travel back in time. Jack Morrow is our hero, and he finds himself being attacked by terrifying creatures in a London graveyard one night several years after his mother’s death. A strange man appears, claiming to be his grandfather. The man urges Jack to travel back to 1940, to meet him there as a teenager, and that together they’ll work out how to keep Jack safe. Jack doesn’t really have a choice but to obey, and so he does as he’s told – and it works, much to his shock. He’s a ‘Yard boy’, or someone with the power to travel through time from graveyard to graveyard.

When Jack travels back through time and meets up with Davey, his teenaged grandfather, I loved how Bushnell handled their relationship. Of course, Davey has no idea who Jack is and thinks the whole thing is an elaborate ruse – he even tries to make a bit of money by selling Jack out. Jack, despite being at a total disadvantage, uses his intelligence and strength of character to stand up for himself, work things out for himself and escape from the many tight corners he finds himself in. He’s no helpless 21st-century fool – he uses his knowledge of history to work out where he is and what’s happening, and he’s a resourceful, resilient young man. The gradual building of trust between the two boys is so cleverly handled that it makes the book’s conclusion all the more wrenching – but I’m not going to give away the twist, of course.

A further layer of loveliness is created by the author’s use of folklore. There is an object in the story, a precious object which is being sought by the terrible ‘baddie’ Rouland, called the Rose of Annwn. This set my mind spinning off through the legends surrounding Annwn, the Welsh otherworld, and the ballad which tells of the legions of men who went to claim it, of whom only seven returned. I really loved what Bushnell did with his Rose, and what it turns out to be. Rouland’s guard is a band of fierce undead warriors called the Paladin (another nod to the medieval, which is great), all of whom are female – that was a refreshing turn. I liked the character of Eloise, a rogue Paladin who commits herself to defending Jack and Davey no matter what the cost to herself. She’s a great creation, though occasionally her special powers and abilities (as a result of being an undead warrior) seem a bit too convenient. But that’s a tiny quibble.

Jack’s abilities to travel through time naturally lead him to think about his mother, and whether there’s anything he can do to keep her from dying. This is his primary motivation, and not finding the Rose of Annwn, even though he knows it’s also important to keep that huge treasure out of the clutches of Rouland. I really enjoyed the conclusion of this story, and how several plotlines were wrapped up while leaving enough to entice a reader back for Book 2. I often find myself confused and disappointed with time-travel stories, but not with this one. It all seemed to make sense and slot together, which made me admire Bushnell’s skill as a storyteller as well as his ability to create a beautiful character in Jack.

Overall, I thought this book was fantastic. It’s a book for children, of course, but there’s enough in it to please any audience. I recommend you give it a try, and spread the word!

Anyway, my fabulous hair and I are off to clean the house and get it ready for ‘comp’ny’. Hopefully I’ll get a bit of writing time, too.

Have wonderful weekends, y’all!

The Next Big Thing

So, apparently the world is supposed to end today. I hope it doesn’t, because I have a lot more I’d like to do with my life, but just in case it does, I’ve filled in my answers to The Next Big Thing below. At least I’ll know I got an idea out into the world, briefly, as I hurtle towards the heart of a black hole later. I’m sure it’ll be some consolation!

Anyway – for however long we’ve got left, here are some details about this WiP you’ve all patiently ‘listened’ to me wittering on about for the past few months.

1. What is the working title of your novel?

It is tentatively entitled ‘Tider’. Just that – one word, snappy and concise. I tend towards the verbose everywhere else, so I’m amazed I could come up with a book title as short as this. Having said that, if it ever gets anywhere near a publishing contract, there are no guarantees it’ll be retained, of course!

2. Where did the idea for the novel come from?

I’ve sort of discussed this before, but I’ll revisit briefly: during my Ph.D. studies, possibly as long ago as 2006, I was sitting in a café reading a book (I believe it was ‘Time, Work and Culture in the Middle Ages’ by Jacques le Goff). It’s a very interesting and clever book, and I was engrossed in it when an idea struck me about the nature of time, and the discrepancies between different methods used to measure it. I had to grab a pen from another table and scribble the bones of the idea for my novel on a customer feedback form, which was a challenge! Though a lot has changed (not least the protagonist’s name), the idea is more or less exactly as I wrote it on that summer’s day over six years ago.

3. What genre does your novel fall under?

‘Tider’ is a Young Adult novel, mainly because the protagonist is sixteen and she finds herself in opposition to her father, and she has to change the plan she had for her life in order to ‘do her duty’, as she sees it, which involves trying to keep her family alive, and together. There is one characteristic of YA novels that doesn’t feature heavily in my book, though, which is the romantic love relationship; YA books seem saturated with female characters who are defined (and who define themselves) by their boyfriend(s), and my protagonist is different. She does meet a boy in the course of her story, but things aren’t as straightforward as they seem with their relationship. At least, that’s my intention! As well as being YA, I’d say it’s probably speculative/fantasy fiction, too.

4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie adaptation of your novel?

The actress who’d play my protagonist (Maraika) would be the lovely and talented Amandla Stenberg, no doubt about that. This is she:

amandla stenbergAnd if the sequel (currently bubbling in my head) ever gets written/made into a movie, the beautiful (and Irish!) Ruth Negga would be great as the older Maraika. This is she:

ruth neggaMy male characters are harder. For the character of Jan, I’d have Nicholas Hoult (but he’d have to grow a beard):

nicholas hoult

For the character of Gavrok, Maraika’s father, I’d have to have Chiwetel Ejiofor, even though he’s probably not quite old enough:

chiwetel ejiofor

But that’s as far as I’ve got!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your novel?

Maraika’s father (the Tider) has always been her hero, but when she is forced to confront the fact that he has been engaging in some seriously immoral activity, and that there are vigilantes out to kill him because of it, she needs to fight to keep him alive – as well as to bring his actions to an end.

6. Will your novel be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ve entered it into a competition which, if I’m shortlisted, may set me on the road to finding an agent and going down the ‘traditional’ route to publication. However, I’m fully prepared to go it alone, and am not averse to self-publishing. As it stands right now, I have no agency representation nor any plans to self-publish; in January 2013, I will know more.

7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This is a tough question, because it’s hard to define ‘first draft’. As I said, the first seedlings of the idea were planted up to six years ago, and I did write a proto-draft about four years ago, which has long been junked. The current book (complete at just under 150,000 words and in its fifth draft) has taken me four months; the first, very rough, draft took about six weeks.

8. With what other novels would you compare this book within your genre?

I’d like to think it’s sort-of similar to Garth Nix’s ‘Abhorsen’ trilogy, with perhaps a smidgen of Catherine Fisher’s ‘Incarceron’ and a dash of Frances Hardinge’s ‘Fly By Night’ and ‘Twilight Robbery’ thrown in. Though that’s self aggrandisement on a huge scale!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this novel?

Well, my fascination with clocks, calendars, time-keeping methods and the Middle Ages, basically. There’s an element of ‘state vs. Church’ in my book, too, which comes straight out of the Investiture Controversy – unlike the ideas at stake in the Investiture Controversy, though, which involved the appointment and deposition of heads of state, my book involves a clash of authorities regarding the measurement of time. So, I guess you could say my interest in the Middle Ages is the primary mover behind this book – but the story as it stands now is not set in a pseudo-medieval world. The original draft, four years ago, was set in a world like that, and it didn’t work. So, the current worldscape is more like a fictionalised late 19th century on another planet. It’s ‘steampunky’ in terms of its technology, but in many other ways it’s not like steampunk at all.

10. What else about your novel might pique a reader’s interest?

Hmmm…. well! It has time-wrangling in it, a feisty and spirited protagonist, and a male ‘lead’ who wears a beard (how often do you see that?); it features betrayal, serious injury, the besieging of a fortress, the attempted theft of the greatest treasure in the world, and an airship; it also features hostage-taking, vandalism and invention. Hopefully that’s about as piquant as any book can be!

Now comes the time for me to nominate other people for this same award. My options are limited because I can’t nominate the people who nominated me, and there are a few others who I know wouldn’t welcome the nomination. So, my list will have to be a short one! I also hope none of the people I’ve nominated will mind my nominating them – there’s no obligation to take part, of course.

 

 

 

 

I hope these links work. I wanted to add a couple of others, but my bullet-points seem to have given up the ghost! Ah, me. The life of a technophobe. I’m amazed my computer doesn’t slap me across the gob with the mouse sometimes!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my WiP, and if you have any comments about it, or questions, I’d love to hear ’em. Happy Friday, everyone – and if it’s the last day, it’s been a pleasure to know y’all.