Of Falling Walls

We woke, this morning, to find that our garden wall – the right hand part of it, which we share with our neighbor, Brian - had come down in the night. Now we know it wasn’t the sturdiest of walls, and there was a very strong wind blowing from the Atlantic last night, but… twenty feet of strong brick wall has been spread across our garden, half covering it. We’ve since spoken to the insurance people and taken photos, and tomorrow – if I’ve time – I’ll clear it and stack the bricks and… Well, there’s not a lot of writing going on, but there has been a great deal of thinking.

Now this might seem like an abrupt change of subject, but it isn’t. Bear with me.

On Sunday (last) Sue and I took my mum to a 50thAnniversary party, for our friends Gloria and John, who married when they were eighteen and still look like sweethearts after all these years. They’re two of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever met. Well, I was enjoying it all, watching from the table, taking everything in as usual (though not, for once, with the effects of alcohol, as, because I was driving, I wasn’t drinking) when an idea struck me.

And what an idea. As I said to Mike Cobley this morning, I saw the thing like it was an already made DVD. Ideas don’t normally arrive in that fashion – well, not for me. And I hastened to set things down on the scraps of paper I had on me or could rustle up from others. A new book. Yes, and a fantasy book – my first since my very first attempt at a novel, back when I was nineteen.

Now, I don’t write fantasy. Or didn’t. You see, there’s been a kind of wall I’ve put up against writing fantasy, ever since that first novel didn’t work out – didn’t ignite or get me wanting to push on and finish it. I wanted to be the new Tolkien, you see, and I quickly realized that I didn’t have a tenth of his talent with words and characters and situations. And so, for all these years, I’ve steered well clear of fantasy. Let those who can do that. Mike Cobley, for one.

Only… this is a brilliant idea, though I say so myself, and I’ve begun working on it in a note-making, questions-asking sort of fashion. And already I have the shape of the thing, the fourteen main characters and the rationale behind it all.  It’s called BURYING THE SMITH, which’ll mean nothing to you just now, but if I ever get this published, that’ll be what it’s called.

It was very strange, because on Monday last, the day after the party, I sat down and, in the space of an hour, wrote over two thousand words of storyline for BURYING (as we’ll shorten it from henceforth). And If I hadn’t been working, I’d probably have started writing it there and then. Because the wall had come down. Whatever it was that stopped me from working on a fantasy novel had suddenly departed, and though I’ve a ton and a half of other things to do next year, writing the first draft of BURYING THE SMITH will definitely be one of them. And before you ask, that’s the way I work and have worked these past thirty years. I always shadow the work I’m supposed to be writing with another. That’s probably why I have so many unpublished novels – roughly twenty in all… and it makes me think that maybe their purpose wasn’t to be novels after all, but to be simply activity that allowed me to write what I should have been writing and (more to the point) was actually being paid for.

But BURYING is just so rich. Already I have the feeling that it’s real and that I’m just tapping in from this reality. Glimpsing stuff I really oughtn’t to see. And I’m pretty certain that the scenario is totally unlike any other you’ll have seen within fantasy. Oh, it’ll be a Wingrove novel, you can be sure, with nasty things happening to nice people and a high body count… I’m not going senile yet… And, if Matt at the fan site agrees, maybe we’ll run it there, in its pristine state. That might be fun.

So. Walls coming down everywhere, huh?

What else has been happening? Well, I’ve been working with my dear friend Brendan, getting a flat ready for the New Year, and I’ve established contact with my new French translator, Mikael Cabon, who has already finished a version of SON OF HEAVEN and will be shortly launching into his translation of DAYLIGHT. He sounds great. Clearly a music buff.

Oh, and with all four girls home for Christmas (with partners) – and my mother and Sue’s brother and Sue’s sister Julie and her son Joe - we’ve been trying to clear the storage room here to turn it into a temporary bedroom. Which has meant total chaos. Boxes of stuff EVERYWHERE. I’ve gone to bed the last two nights feeling like I’ve run a marathon, and in a way I have… carrying heavy boxes of books down two flights, time after time, is excellent exercise. But Jeeze do your legs ache.

Am watching the stuff on TV (on Sky, to be specific) about the southern fishing village in China – Wukan - that’s under siege by the government, and may blog on it tomorrow night. It’s probably about the biggest thing in world news right now, so I want to see if I can do the subject justice, but this whole thing about corruption on a local government level is also the most important thing that the Politburo has to get right. If they get it wrong then they are going to have social unrest in a major way – remember that scene in SON OF HEAVEN when Jake is in the hopper, thinking about what happened in the years leading up to the Collapse? – with village after village in China rising up? Yep. That’s what could happen unless they solve this problem.

Okay. I’m going to post this. But first a teaser. Her name is Corrine, shortened by usage to Cor, and she is the light in the darkness, the drop of pure water in the polluted stream. She is also enchanted. And as she looks from her window, high above the valley, so we see – as she sees – one after another come up the long, winding path that leads to the Forge, some on foot, others on horseback, or in wagons, and each with their own story, their own needs, their own expectations. Each one of them come for the burial of The Smith, perhaps the greatest man any of them has ever met. Now dead. Unexpectedly. In his prime.

Yeah… am having such fun with this.

More tomorrow,

David Wingrove     Friday 16thDecember 2011