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Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – Review



My Goodreads rating: 5 of 5 stars


I can’t remember when I last read a book that I devoured so avidly – especially a book that’s not a genre thriller or whodunit (at least not in the classical sense). Borrowed from the library, started and finished in the space of a few hours.

It’s a book that mystifies, explains, uplifts and depresses, all at the same time. Told through the eyes of someone who is clearly not in the same world (physically and mentally) as the rest of humanity, it’s obvious that there is something very strange happening.

As “Piranesi” (not his real name) finds out more about his reality, we readers realise that what appeared to be errors in the continuity and credibility of the narration are in fact clues to the situation which we should have picked up, but we are so caught up in the wonder of Piranesi’s world and of his mind that we don’t bother questioning them as deeply as we might.

Not the overpowering tour de force that was Strange and Norrell, but a masterpiece on a far more constrained and miniature scale.

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How do I write pastiches?

Pastiches? Homages? Rip-offs? Or simply imitations (“the sincerest form of flattery” according to Oscar Wilde)?
I’ve written quite a few of these, taking on the mantle of four authors in my time: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), William Hope Hodgson (Carnacki the Ghost-Finder), G.K.Chesterton (Father Brown), and latterly E.F.Benson (Mapp and Lucia). All of these have been well-received.

In these stories, I have always tried to maintain the style of the original authors as far as possible. This is more than a matter of recycling stock phrases (“You know my methods, Watson”, “tarsome”, etc.). Each of these authors has an individual style, even though in many cases their periods of activity overlapped with each other – there is much more to this pastiche business than simply copying the mannerisms of a bygone age’s language.

“After the initial chalk circle and pentacle, strengthened with garlic, the Electric Pentacle was obviously the first line of my defences to be established, and I welcomed the glow from its wards once I had assembled it. I performed the the Second Sign of the Saaamaaa Ritual at each vertex, though if matters were as I suspected, and that the beings reportedly described in the lost Heptatrych of Laskaria were involved, the Ritual would have little or no effect. My faith lay in the Pentacle, along with the linen-wrapped bread placed in the ‘Points’ and the water placed in the ‘Vales’, and I determined to spend the night inside that, provided, that is, that there was no clear natural cause for any untoward event.

From my “Carnacki at Bunscombe Abbey”

However well I think I have done with the style, though, when I look back at examples of the originals, I find that I have invariably missed something – at least to my eyes. There is always some element of subtlety that I seem to miss out when writing my pastiches. Even so, the majority of readers seem to think that I have captured the spirit of the originals. I like to think that no one could ever use Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral as architectural blueprints, but they are unmistakably paintings of that particular building, in the same way that my writing is an impression of the writer whose work I am imitating. Incidentally, the hardest style of all to imitate has been Chesterton’s – he loves his little paradoxes and slices of religion to be slipped in. Very difficult to do.

“He is not a Catholic, then?”
She sighed. “He is nothing,” she said. “That is to say, he claims that he cannot prove that God exists, or that He does not. Therefore, he mocks both those with faith, and those who deny faith. Though he is a most efficient and useful addition to the household, and of great assistance in Uncle Archie’s work, I – we – feared that my uncle would give him his notice if he were to continue in this fashion. It upset my uncle considerably.”
“And yet you tell me that you love him?” asked Father Brown kindly.
“I do. I have faith – faith that I can bring him to belief and into the bosom of the Church. I pray every night for him to believe.”
This interesting conversation (interesting, that is, to the young lady at least, since Father Brown had heard that story, or one very similar to it, many times in his time as a priest) was interrupted by the entry of the young man in question.

From my “The Persian Dagger”

Characters are another matter. How far does one take liberties with the character? I like to think (and many critics have agreed with me) that my Holmes and Watson expand on the originals without changing their basic characteristics. I am not, for instance, going to make Holmes and Watson jump into bed with each other, but at the same time, I feel free to make more of the genuine affection that they feel for each other. The same applies to Mapp and Lucia and the inhabitants of Tilling. The characters are loved because of who they are, and any fundamental change to them would make them different people. They may grow and develop, but any outright change to their personalities would turn them into different people. I loved writing Mrs Weston in Riseholme – her streams of consciousness are a delight to write:

“Well, I really don’t know,” she said, after inspecting Georgie’s pieces of glass and invited to guess where he had found them. “I do declare that is just like the handle of a jug that Mr Weston used to have, which he inherited from his aunt, the one who used to live in Hastings and who married the man who invented a new kind of safety-valve to go on railway engines, and which he broke one afternoon after he came in from playing golf with the Vicar. I remember that he went round in 83 strokes, and the Vicar went round in 82, but he said the Vicar had cheated by moving his ball out of a bunker when he thought no one was looking.” She inspected Georgie’s treasure trove a little more closely. “I was just talking about this last week with Colonel Boucher when he was coming out of Rush’s and he had ordered half a pound of currants because Rush said he had no raisins, and why he had no raisins I couldn’t say if you begged me to tell you because he had some two weeks ago and Cook made a very nice pudding out of them. I couldn’t eat it all, and Cook and Elizabeth said they were the best raisins they had ever eaten in a pudding. And the Colonel said he had played golf and lost by one stroke and that put me in mind of that day and it was also the day the German Emperor made a speech about something which annoyed the Prime Minister and that was the very same day that Mr Weston broke the jug.” She paused for breath. “And how you ever got hold of that handle I don’t know, because I remember giving it to Elizabeth to throw away. ‘Wrap it up well,’ I said to her, ‘because someone might cut their hand on it and die of blood-poisoning like old Mr Marlowe who cut his thumb when he was raking the flowerbed in his front garden and he got blood-poisoning and died two– no, three weeks later, and then we’d get the blame.’ So what she did with it, I couldn’t tell you, but I haven’t seen it from that day to this when you showed it to me just now and I really have no idea where you might have found it.”

From my “La Lucia”

And then there are plots and settings. When you are writing a pastiche, you are writing for fans of the originals. If I slip up and put Mr Twistevant behind the counter of the fish-shop, or have Holmes and Watson take the London Underground Victoria Line, I would be rightly laughed out of court. Research and reference to the originals for facts and settings. And plots cannot be too outrageous (though in all the instances I have mentioned, the plots are pretty outrageous to start with) – they must be in scale with the settings of the piece. It is not impossible that the Prince of Wales, for example, sits on Mallards doorstep and smokes a cigarette. It is, however, most unlikely that he would ring dear Liblib’s belly-pelly and ask to be invited in for a cup of tea.

So, the brief answer to “how do I write pastiches” is, “I write stories that the original author didn’t have time to write”. I like to think that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might well have written:

As a doctor, I am sworn to protect the life of others. As a human being, I am obviously anxious to protect my own life. And as a friend of Sherlock Holmes, I was never more determined to protect his well-being than at that moment. I fired my revolver, and the wretch dropped his weapon, clutching at his arm with a sharp cry.

From my “The Adventure of the Vatican Cameos”

Jack and the Beans

green vegetable on white surface

Our local writers’ group gave as an exercise a re-placement of a fairy-tale character in a novel situation. However, I decided to be a little different (surprise, surprise) and ended up writing a slightly surreal piece of nonsense loosely based on what I could remember of Jack and the Beanstalk.


Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack who lived with his mother in a small cottage hallway between the towns of Nowhere and Nothing. They were so poor that they used to beg for crumbs from the church mice who sometimes came to visit, but their sole possession, other than a 42” plasma TV, was a cow called Eric. The television had never worked, chiefly because there was no electricity in the cottage, but it was very useful for stopping the draft from the broken window.

“Why is our cow called Eric, Mother?” Jack would ask on long winter evenings. Sometimes he asked the same question on short summer evenings, but not so often, because the evenings were shorter.

He always forgot the answer that his mother gave him, and his mother always forgot that he had asked the same question twenty times already that month. So they were both perfectly happy with that evening’s entertainment.

“Who needs Netflix,” they would ask each other, “when you have a cow called Eric?”

But neither of them knew the answer to that question.

There came a time when even the church mice stopped coming, pleading pressure of work, and a disturbing trend in atheism.

“We must sell Eric,” said Jack’s mother. “You must go to the market in Nowhere and sell her, so that we can eat.”

So, one day, Jack set off for the market of Nowhere, leading Eric on a piece of string. His mother waved farewell to them with her last clean paper tissue, which she had been saving for Sunday best, but she had brought it out in honour of the occasion.

In six hours, Eric returned, leading Jack on the same piece of string.

Jack’s mother was about to ask Eric what had happened, when she stopped, realising that she had forgotten to put her false teeth in, and that Eric wouldn’t be able to understand her. She turned to Jack.

“I’m sorry, mother,” said Jack. “I tried to sell Eric so that we could feed ourselves, but no one wanted to give me anything to eat. All they wanted to give me in exchange was money. And you can’t eat it. I tried, and it tasted horrible.”

“Oh, you silly boy! Trying to eat money like that!” said his mother impatiently. “Surely you know that you can’t eat it raw. It has to be cooked. Tomorrow you must go to the market at Nothing, and sell Eric there.”

So, the next day, Eric and Jack set off for Nothing.

Jack’s mother was surprised to see Jack return alone a couple of hours later, holding a piece of string.

“Where’s Eric?” she asked.

“Sold her,” Jack said, with an air of pride.

“How?” said his mother. “I remembered just after you’d gone that it was Sunday, and there wouldn’t be a market. Still, I said to myself, the exercise will do you both good. It’s only five miles each way. So… how much did you get for Eric?”

Jack opened his hand to display five beans. “The man who bought Eric told me that these were really good if you cooked them in tomato sauce and put them on buttered toast.”

Jack’s mother sighed. “I don’t know how you can be so stupid. There are five beans there, and two of us. How are we going to manage to divide them fairly?” And she angrily snatched the beans out of Jack’s hand, and threw them out of the window (the one which wasn’t blocked by the 42” plasma TV), where they were snatched up by a passing squirrel and eaten.

Overnight, the beans sprouted and grew and grew. Which wasn’t so nice for the squirrel. But that’s another story. And not one for bedtime.

Eric grew to a ripe old age, and took second prize at the Miss Nowhere beauty contest two years after she had been sold for five beans.

Jack’s mother reluctantly dug up the box of £20 notes that she had been saving for a rainy day, although the forecast only said scattered showers, and went to Tesco, where she bought a Warburton’s sliced loaf, a pack of Lurpak spreadable butter which was almost past its expiry date, and three tins of baked beans on special offer. Jack and his mother lived, but not very happily, and not ever after.


I worry about me sometimes.

Bad blurb?

I’ve just received a list of the nominees for an award. The blurb below is for one of these, and it’s written by an established author, and published by an established firm. On Amazon, it has over 4,000 ratings, averaging four stars. This is clearly a book that people enjoy, but with this blurb, I don’t really understand why people are interested in it (names redacted).


A****, F****, E*****, and S**** are still young — but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

OK, so young people are aware of time passing. And they have sex and worry about it. And yes, young people are not perfect, and their relationships (sexual and other) ebb and flow. And they worry about all these things.

Why should I wish to read about these people? What makes them interesting or different? Is this the aim of this pedestrian blurb? To make me want to see why 4,000 Amazon readers think this is such a good book? I’m sure that a better blurb would sell more copies.

“Standing in the last lighted room before the darkness” – it’s a beautiful phrase, and one that many people will relate to. I think many generations feel that they’re the last hope of humanity, whether it be battling the evil Hun in the Great War, or the Nazis in the continuation of that conflict, or marching and protesting with CND about nuclear weapons, or even superglueing themselves to the M25 to raise awareness of climate change. So why are these four young people different? I’m not interested.

A book’s blurb blurb needs to show us why this book is so different from so many other books on the market (Amazon carries over 10,000,000 titles). This prose above just makes my heart sink, and excites me as much as a half-finished bowl of cornflakes.

https://i0.wp.com/freebie.photography/office/pen_notebook.jpg?resize=561%2C373
Time to start again with a blank sheet

Oops! False start…

Apologies.

I uploaded the EPUB version of On the Other Side of the Sky to the Amazon Kindle convertor and all seemed to be OK. No error message, EPUB looked great on my Kobo. I don’t own a Kindle and none of the pieces of emulation software seem to do their job on my computer.

However, when I could finally see the preview on screen following the release of the book (KDP offers an on-screen preview, but never seems to allow you to see the results of your latest upload, taking you straight to the pricing page once you’ve uploaded the new version) – all my fancy fonts had been stripped out (with no warning – thank you, Amazon) and so the nice little squiggly doodles that I’d carefully inserted came out as M and u.

In addition, it seemed that the InDesign TOC creation process had fouled up, putting Part headers at the end of the preceding chapter. Even going into the source code with Calibre, and cutting and pasting (and editing TOC files and the CSS files) didn’t seem to fix it.

So… start again with Vellum. A pain, but it works. Export from InDesign to RTF, open in Word, save as DOCX and import into Vellum, tidying up all the chapter and section divisions as I go. So as of today (December 1) the new edition is with Amazon having passed the initial checks. With luck you’ll be able to get it tomorrow. Same with Smashwords (Kobo, Apple, B&N, etc.).

On the Other Side of the Sky

A novel combining history, adventure, and more than a little touch of the arcane


How big should a book be?

I don’t mean “how many pages?”, but “how tall and wide should a book be?”. One problem that I’ve seen with a lot of books recently, especially self-published books, is that they’re too big to fit comfortably into a pocket or a bag.

Sometimes, this seems to be done in order to reduce the number of pages in a book, and therefore bring down the cost (the people who do this are probably the ones who use as small a typeface as possible in order to save space, and who also take the print right to the edge of the paper).

The printers I use for my books, Ingram Spark, happily have a wide range of trim sizes (the technical term for the page size of a book. Not every kind of paper is available in every size (there’s a choice between white, creme, and now something called “groundwood” which I’ve used for my latest, which has come out really nicely, and most of these sizes are paperback only, a few with hard covers and dust jackets. KDP, Amazon’s self-publishing service, offers a subset of these trim sizes.

Now, the cost to me of a hard cover is twice that of a paperback, even before I’ve paid the setup costs, and by the time I’ve factored in the very hefty discount that retailers demand, there’s really no incentive other than vanity for producing a hardcover for adult titles (but see below with regard to children’s books).

However, since I can choose the trim size, I’ve avoided the almost ubiquitous 6″ x 9″ and 5″ x 8″ options (sorry, since Ingram is an American company, they work in antique units for the most part) format which seems to be common to many books. I also, for the most part, tend to avoid the DIN A series of paper formats (1:1.41 ratio) which are OK for paper sheets, but don’t, IMHO, work for books.

When I started to produce On the Other Side of the Sky (at the top of this page) I decided to make it as close as possible to a “standard” or “classic” paperback size, whatever that might be. So I carefully measured up a Penguin, and designed around that. One thing about Ingram Spark is that they ask for a margin of 36pt (3p or 0.5″) on each side of the text block, so if you make your trim size small, remember to knock 72pt (6p or 1″) off each dimension for the text block.

Even so there are two of my titles where I felt that it was a good idea to make a minibook: Unknown Quantities, and my two Untime stories bound together in one volume:

And the reaction has been really positive. The people who have seen and handled the two above seem to love the small size – “a book you can take with you”. And for On the Other Side of the Sky, those who have seen advance copies have said about the paperback that it is a “real book, isn’t it? I can read it in bed”. Perhaps slightly insulting to an author who took many months to produce it, but flattering to the designer who took the words and set them in print. Very gratifying to have these decisions endorsed by readers.

But sometimes it’s a good idea to go slightly odd. For the hardcover of the anthology of our Sherlock Ferret series (hardcover comes into its own for children’s titles (the purchaser the reader is not always the reader and children’s books get a lot of wear and tear), I decided that a square page format would be eye-catching and practical, given Andy’s wonderful illustrations which need to be shown off to their best advantage, rather than being tucked away in a corner.

An extract from the other side…

I’ve talked quite a lot about On the Other Side of the Sky, so here’s a little part of of it. Jane Machin, the protagonist, has returned to England, with the assistance of two Sylphs – Air Elementals (find out a little more about Elementals here).

She awoke with a start to find her feet firmly on the ground, and the two Sylphs standing one on each side of her. They were clearly in the park of a great house. Deer were feeding some way off, and the sun appeared to have just risen. She looked to see a large mansion to her left, the golden stone of the house glowing in the morning light.
“We will vanish now,” said one of the Sylphs, “but we’ll be near you when you need us.”
“The music you played last night was wonderful,” said the other. “It reminded us of home.”
“But you don’t need to play if you don’t want to. Just want us badly enough and we’ll help you.”
“You’ve helped me a lot already,” Jane said. “Thank you so much.” She reached for the recorder, and started to play. This time the tune was a lively jig, and the two Sylphs broke into smiles, and then started to whirl in a fantastical dance. As Jane speeded up the tempo of the music, so the Sylphs’ dance became faster and faster until they were whirling so fast that they were lost to sight.
Jane sighed, placed the recorder back in the placket of her skirt, and wondered what to do with her old clothes from France. In the end, she decided to make a detour into the woods and hide them under a pile of branches and leaves before making her way to the house.
She hesitated before approaching the main door of the house. Would it not be more appropriate, she asked herself, to go to the servants’ entrance at the back? No, she decided firmly, she had come to see Thomas’s elder brother, whom Thomas had named to her as George, and when visiting the family, one should use the family entrance.
There was a bell-pull near the door, and she pulled at it, hearing the sonorous clanging of a bell somewhere inside the house. After a few minutes, she heard footsteps, the drawing of bolts, and the door swung open to reveal a liveried footman, who simply stared at her expectantly.
“I am here to visit Sir George FitzAlan,” she announced.
“Is he expecting you?”
“No,” she confessed. “I am a friend of his brother, Captain Thomas FitzAlan, and I have news of him.”
“I see, madam.” The servant’s manner was a touch more deferential at the mention of the family name. “Sir George is breaking his fast. I will ask him if he wishes to meet you. What name should I give?”
“Machin. Jane Machin.”

On the Other Side of the Sky, Chapter XIV, The House

Jane can request favours of Sylphs, and these two have taken a fancy to her.

The house, by the way is loosely based on Shugborough Hall (pictured here), though the FitzAlan family are not based on the Ansons (Earls of Lichfield). There is a strange inscription on one of the garden monuments. No one has yet found a definitive answer. I considered putting it, or something like it, into the story, but decided it would be a dead end, and not add anything to the plot. More in Wikipedia.


On the Other Side of the Sky

A novel combining history, adventure, and more than a little touch of the arcane


Feels good…

But it will feel better when they’re in the hands of readers and reviewers.

All ready for the gig on the 25th – if you’re in the Lichfield area and you are interested, take yourself off to the Erasmus Darwin site, and book your ticket now. Places are limited (COVID).

If you can’t make it, consider placing a pre-order on Amazon or even asking your local bookstore to order it (ISBN 9781912605750).

November 25 – a date for your diary

If you’re in Lichfield on November 25th, come along to Erasmus Darwin House at 6pm for a glass or two of mulled wine, a mince pie, and a good yarn.

For me, as the author, it’s incredibly exciting to be reading my fictional story in the real-life location where so many of the events in the book take place.

Jonathan Oates (“Jono”) will be hosting an event in which I shall be reading from and introducing On the Other Side of the Sky, my novel which blends local historical characters with fiction, and a splash of the paranormal.

£7.50 to include mulled wine and mince pie. Signed advance copies of the book will be offered at a reduced price, as well as copies of Jono’s book on the history of Lichfield. Tickets available for purchase here.

Book early – numbers are limited (COVID precautions).

Sense-less

close up photography of adult black and white short coat dog

My dog’s got no nose.
How does he smell, then?
Terrible

Actually, I’m writing about the loss of one sense – smell. Since suffering a (mild) attack of COVID-19 about a month ago, I have almost lost my sense of smell.

I can still taste things, which is a great comfort – I”d hate to be simply shovelling things into my mouth without tasting them. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy food and drink; without fetishising them, I hope.

But the loss of my sense of smell – one of those senses that we hardly notice most of the time – is actually quite a major thing.

Obviously, the smell of coffee in the morning is something of which you are probably conscious. If you bake bread, or fry onions, you notice their smell as you go through the process of preparing the food. Your soap and shampoo that you use in your morning shower are almost certainly scented.

But out and about? The smell of wet autumn leaves? The different smells emerging from different shops and doorways as you walk past? The smell of people? For yes, indeed, people do have a smell, whether they augment it with perfumed or scented or not. Toast burning. The smell of wet paint. Even farts. I am missing all of these. And quite frankly, it’s depressing. Something is missing from my life, and it’s not always immediately obvious what it is.

But what’s really irritating is that I can actually smell things – faintly at times, true – but only for a second or two at a time. The sudden whiff of coconut (in my shampoo) or a spice as I add it to a recipe, or as yesterday, two seconds’ worth of incense in the Requiem Eucharist for All Souls’ Day. Suddenly, I remember what it’s like to be able to smell things again.

The difference is amazing – it’s like switching from monochrome to full colour. And then it goes back to black and white again after a brief memory of what red feels like. Most disturbing and upsetting. I just pray that my sense of smell returns soon.

It’s coming together

On the Other Side of the Sky is coming together nicely. Currently going through it with the assistance of a friend, weeding out all the typos, and also minor details of plot and character which don’t seem to hang together very well.

A friend from the USA has suggested a glossary, to provide a little background information on people and topics that may be unfamiliar to some readers, so I’ve been busy with that.

I now have a design for the interior of the book, and several graphical elements, all of which are meant to evoke something of an 18th-century feel to the book, and which I should be able toinclude in the ebook as well. It’s going to be a very pretty piece of work indeed (in my opinion).

The photo is a mockup of the cover (printout of the design, and wrapped around a book of roughly the same thickness (just under 2.5cm, with 380 pages). In fact, I’ve slightly changed the spine from the photo above, so that it stands out a bit better:

The other books are there just to provide a comparison of size and of other designs. The back blurb is basically there – I don’t see it changing very much:

And the print and ebook editions will be available on the same day – December 1, 2021.

Price for the ebook will be £4.99 and Amazon US has it at $6.82 for pre-order. The US Amazon has some more information about the book and its writing than the UK site. The paperback will be available for pre-order soon.

There’s also a very new Facebook page about this book, where I will be writing bits and pieces about the content.

Cover up!

I enjoy mocking up covers for my stories, even before the stories themselves are ready for publication. Sometimes the covers help to crystallise my thoughts on how the story needs to be refined, and help me focus on key elements that I highlight in the cover.

I’m no artist, but I flatter myself that I know my type and have a reasonable grasp of the Adobe tools.

In this case, the aspects I want to emphasise are:

  • the protagonist, Jane, who is a little weird
  • the wild countryside of the north Midlands
  • the looming presence of those from the other side of the sky
  • and some hints that it is not contemporary
This one came closest after a preliminary search.

There are other elements in the story, but I don’t think they would catch the eye to the same extent. I wanted a face and a figure. People respond to faces on book covers. Looking through royalty-free photos, I found nothing I really felt was suitable.

But the problem is that it was too modern. That’s not an 18th-century face. It stares at you and grabs you, but doesn’t go with the long subtitle.

The single eye seems a bit odd to me as well. So I went searching.

LeBrun self-portrait

So, Wikipedia has a lot of her paintings, including this delightful self-portrait:

And also this:

Unnamed young girl

And this is what I came up with:

I made the image monochrome other than the eyes, which I made very saturated green, and placed it to one side, with a good deal of transparency.

But it still didn’t look right to me, so I moved the title and increased the font size.

Probably not the final version

Almost certainly it will not be the final cover, but it does give me inspiration to continue and get the book out. Here’s a little bit of what the book is about:

Done (but not dusted)!

I’ve now finished the first draft of my next book. Provisional title: On the Other Side of the Sky.

Current length: 103,000 words. That’s a lot of words.

Date started: 20 August 2020 (I have written and published a couple of shorter books in the meantime)

Setting: 18th century Europe

Protagonist: A girl with a strange parentage

Antagonist: Her father – who is from the other side of the sky

Other characters: Some members of the Lunar Society including England’s greatest doctor, Erasmus Darwin, assorted alchemists, mesmerists, mountebanks, rabbis, and German Landgraves. A sprinkling of the English aristocracy and some revolutionary sans-culottes.

Supporting cast: Some beings from the other side of the sky, and some Rosicrucian-type Elementals (Sylphs, Gnomes, Undines and Salamanders).

Genre: Historical paranormal. Similar in its way to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Method of writing: Seat of the pants. Watch and listen to the characters and write down what they do and say.

Research and sources: 17th and 18th century books on alchemy, Jewish legends, serious scholarly work on Kabbala, biographies of some of the Lunar Men and of that period.

It’s been a wild ride through lots of Jungian landscapes. It’s either a complete load of self-indulgent crap, or it’s a very good book indeed. I’m not sure I can tell the difference at this stage.

Now comes the hard part – editing.

If anyone reading this is or knows an agent or publisher who might be interested, please let me know.