Thursday, 13 December 2007


I’m recovering from another heavy cold. This is the second within three or four weeks -- so it seems the tone is set for the season.

I sailed through last winter without a sniff. But this year, it looks like I’ll be sneezing right through to spring. Not that this stops me working. No way! It does stop me returning a phone call, if an email will do, and the dust has reprieve from the hoover. And, of course, I’ve had deadlines on design projects, so my allocated sleeping hours have suffered too.

Yet, I feel inspired!

Now my first novel is ‘finished’ and on submission to agents, I had begun to work on its sequel, or, second in the series (I would love to write six). But I also have a rough outline and first chapter of a completely different story. A ghost story, with a fifteen-year-old protagonist named Daisy Pine. Two nights ago, I was so preoccupied with this story that I couldn’t sleep. I saw Daisy standing at the top of a flight of stairs, and she was smaller, younger, eleven-years-old to be precise. Then all sorts of bits and pieces, well, big things actually, like Daisy's circumstances and the ghosts' motivation, fell into place.

The essence of this story has been with me for a while, but I felt uncertain about writing a ghost story. The very first novel I seriously attempted was a psychological thriller. But spending so much time with a dark and frightening story just wasn’t me! There was no way I could stay with it and ditched it halfway through. For this reason, I didn’t want to rush headlong into a novel I couldn’t sustain. Then, a few weeks ago, I wrote a short ghost story (with midget ghosts ;)) and survived! I didn’t frighten myself to death or turn into a totally strange and scary person.

I’m now really excited about this new novel, and want to write it with momentum, without all the stops and starts that have plagued my previous writing. I’ve set a deadline of the end of March for the first draft. It’s doable, so long as fire and flood stay away from my door!

I've just read in the comments section on Patricia Wood's blog, that she wrote the first draft of Lottery between January and March. I take that as a very good sign.


ORION said...

when it comes to you in a dream it is meant to be. that is the most precipitous sign.

Mary said...

Pat, I think you’re right. Thank you! This is a story to run with. It feels different, more powerful, not contrived.

Dr. John said...

You need more vitamin c.

Mary said...

I hope it doesn’t seem that I misunderstood Pat’s comment. But the initial concept and title of this story came from a dream. So far, it’s been very much a nighttime novel!

John: what good advice! I will up my intake. And also try Echinacea.

Anonymous said...

I'm continuing our "crosstalk" from over at Nathan Bransford concerning "All Creatures." I've had a crush on "Sigfried" at one time as well as "James" and "Tristan." One of the greatest tv shows of all time. My crushes these days run more to David Beckham, Gordon Ramsay and Jude Law. I've never been to England so some day I'd like to do a home exchange with someone in either London or the Cotswolds. I'm in Chicago.

Mary said...

Nona: I sort of grew up with All Creatures Great & Small. There are certain books/films/TV shows that make a major impression if you experience them at a certain time. I was about thirteen when All Creatures first aired. I was an animal nut, with over forty rabbits and guinea pigs, and longed to own a horse or a goat. Vets, to me, were glamorous, clever animal lovers, and the characters in All Creatures were the first TV grown-ups I could really relate to.

What a great situation -- three very different men, all with the same profession, sharing a house, but still like a family because Siegfried was so much in charge. And it was such a challenge for James to fit in to this new environment. As you said in your comment on Nathan’s blog, this was a show from which you learned a lot about characterisation. I think I did, too.

Like you, I had serious crushes, but never on Siegfried (too old and paternal), my affections flipped back and forth between James and Tristan, and there were fights with my sister because she liked them too!

I’m not too much of a Gordon Ramsay fan. But I have a HUGE culinary crush on Marco Pierre White, after watching him in the recent series of Hell’s Kitchen.

(I think this is the longest comment I’ve ever written!)

nona said...

I was also watching All Creatures at an impressionable time in my life, when I was younger, and yes, they made quite an impression. The characterization is really the high point. I've read most of the books and I've seen most of the miniseries, although I may have missed a few seasons toward the end that may not have aired in the States. Either that, or I simply missed them. I'll have to put all seven seasons in my Netflix queue and have an ongoing festival. The books and the series were exotic for me because of the time period and the setting. A big plus.

Siegfried was indeed one of my favorites. It's true, he was older but he was so energetic and quick-witted -- to the point of being downright manic! And they always showed him stepping out with a glam girl much, much younger than himself. That didn't hurt his image any. James was the rock. The sensible one in the middle. Even though he did succumb sometimes to the silliness in the household. That only made him more human, more likeable. And then there was Tristan for comic relief. The irresponsible golden boy -- alternately spoiled and abused by his older brother. It was a complex story, wasn't it? Pure genius.

I've read the MPW bio, "Devil in the Kitchen," the Ramsay bio, "Roasting in Hell's Kitchen," and I've read all of the Anthony Bourdain books. They're all great. I've seen some of the Bourdain travel series and I've seen Ramsay on "Kitchen Nightmares." To top it off, all of these guys are highly photogenic. I haven't seen MPW on tv yet, but I'll have to keep an eye out for it. I think the MPW/Ramsay rivalry is very interesting, especially the part about Ramsay framing MPW for the theft of his reservations book at Aubergine. These guys are hard core, I guess. You can see it in their faces. If they weren't locked up in the kitchen, they'd all be out getting arrested!

Trish Ryan said...

Gotta love inspiration! When it strikes, things move fast, and when it wanders off for a bit it seems like every 24 hour cycle takes a little bit longer. Thank God that's not actually true, and that inspiration always finds it's way back :)

Mary said...

Nona: “Pure genius” is absolutely right. I’m so glad you brought All Creatures Great & Small back to the front of my mind. I definitely plan to re-watch some of the early seasons, and was amazed to find there are 91 episodes in total. I think they over-stretched it, and the quality suffered towards the end.

Don’t get me wrong about Siegfried; he was amazing, the star of the show. The kind of character I admired but wasn’t brave enough to have a crush on at the tender age of thirteen.

We’re obviously inspired by similar types. I was considering writing something with a chef as a main character (I still might!) and started watching MPW on Hell’s Kitchen as “research”. I hope you get to see him on TV. What a charismatic and complex character he is! I haven’t read “Devil in the Kitchen” (so many books, so little time) but certainly will if I move forward with writing a chef character.

Though I’m loyal to Marco, word is that Gordon’s book is SO much better!

All that rivalry really works for these boys! Wow.

Trish: “Gotta love inspiration!” Amen to that! And it’s such a fabulous feeling.

Nona said...

A chef as a main character sounds great. So much interesting material to mine!