Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Novel Beginning

A quieter week at Hedges Towers. By the time you read this, the closing date for our objections to the local town council's sneaky planning application will have passed. Interestingly though, we have now discovered what one might euphemistically call an 'anomaly' on the actual application. 

Under the Wildlife and Ecology section, the council has declared that there are NO protected species who would be adversely affected by their road and the dumping of earth upon the adjoining Wildlife Site. Really? Not sure the Roman Snails (protected by law and IUCN Red listed) would agree with that.

Am I saying that the town council is a collective of mendacious offspring of unwed parents? Probably. Watch this space. We have made a formal complaint to the Planning Officer. Meanwhile, the frostbite continues to heal albeit slowly, thanks for asking, and the Roman Snails are still hibernating, unaware of the furore breaking over their innocent heads.

And so to the new novel. Those of you who have followed this blog from its inception last May know that one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place was to dissipate my anger over the inability of mainstream publishers to appreciate my enormous writing talents (sic), and publish the Victorian novel, coupled with frustration about my current publisher's refusal to commission a fifth Spy Girl book. I am a warning to all those writers who think that once you get an agent, fame and fortune will follow. Were it true, I'd be writing this on the terrazzo of my villa in Tuscany, with my pink Ferrari parked in the driveway.

The Victorian novel now nears its rewritten completion. It is called Diamond Girl and can be loosely summarized as: 'Orphaned 17 year old inherits priceless diamond after horrific murder of uncle. But dark and evil forces are waiting to steal it.' There are also more subplots than you could shake a stick at, two slightly pastiche detectives and a gigantic hound. It is probably best described as a 'homage' to the Victorian era, a kind of: 'Terry Pratchett and Charles Dickens go clubbing with practically every novelist from the period and they all have fun.' This is how it opens:

''London, 1860. Dreamworld of pain and pleasure, of fantasy and phantom. It is midnight, a full moon and a cold mist rising up from the river. Mist ghosts the masts of the sloops and Russian brigs waiting to unload their cargo. Mist curls itself possessively around sooty chimneys and rooftops. Mist gently fingers its way into fetid courts and alleyways, and the crowded tenements where a myriad Londoners toss and turn in troubled sleep.

Not everyone is sleeping though, in this vast city of many million souls. Strange shapes of men and women drift through the misty streets like ghostly apparitions. They gather outside dim gaslit haunts. Street corners are beset by night prowlers. The devil puts a diamond ring on his taloned finger, sticks a pin in his shirtfront and takes the air.

Look more closely. A solitary man is crossing Westminster Bridge. Tall and broad shouldered, he wears a top hat and an overcoat with wide lapels and a velvet collar. It is buttoned up against the chill night air. He walks with purpose, as if on his way to an important rendezvous. A gas lamp throws its shifting radiance upon the upper planes of his face; the lower part is covered by a knitted scarf, protection from the stinking miasma that rises from the oozing mud.

Footsteps approach from behind. Someone else is crossing the bridge, moving with incredible speed. Darkness clings to a misty outline, pools around feet that step from shadow into light and back into shadow. The figure stretches out a black gloved hand. Touches the man upon the left shoulder.

He turns. Freezes. Then cowers back, uttering a low cry of horror and covering his face with his arms. There is the sound of blows being struck, the shatter of bone. The thud of something heavy hitting the ground, followed by silence. Steps re-cross the bridge and echo into the distance. The man remains, lying motionless in the gutter, blood pooling beneath his broken body. A gas lamp flickers momentarily overhead, and goes out. ''

Feel free to comment. Next week, if they ever stop fighting on the landing, one of my elite selection of guests will be joining me upon the PINK SOFA for a chat. Don't miss it.






26 comments:

  1. What a great atmospheric opening, and a fantastic voice!

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    1. Thanks. I don't normally post bits of work, but just thought: why not!

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  2. Sounds exciting. But is there a talking dog in it?

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    1. Kind of ....in that there's a werrewolf....but of that, no more.

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  3. Wow! I have to read this!....NEED to read this!....delightfully atmospheric, to say the least! On my part. your opening with 'London, 1860.'...was enough to pique my interest and then, as I read further, my suspicions were confirmed....it's EXCELLENT!!...and that being said just after a mere snippet of your prose!.....Yep!...I approve!...:D

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    1. Well, that's it then. Bound to be a best seller!!! Pink Ferrari's in the bag! hahahaha.

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  4. Yes you definitely know how to build an atmosphere. Looking like a great read. I'm liking the sound of a large having a part in your novel ;)

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  5. Wish the opening was longer as I really wanted to read on. These few paragraphs are certainly very atmospheric though, and you get a strong sense of the world that is about to unfold.

    I haven't read a lot of Prachett but I could imagine his fantasy world melding with Victorian London as I read this - could almost picture "Death" looming through the mist.

    I really liked that idea of "Look more closely" beckoning the reader into the world you have created for them.


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    1. Thanks Paul. From a fellow 'historical' writer, this means a lot. The reason I write slightly 'pastiche' is that there are soo many 'serious' writers out there - and so many Historical trolls waiting to pounce on any tiny out of place detail. This way, I can get away with a bit of laxity - tho' I have scrupulously researched very detail!!

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  6. Yikes!!! Where's the rest!!! You can't leave us like this?? Self publish. Carol! Lulu.com, Kindle, anything! Just let us read this book! l love this description "the stinking miasma that rises from the oozing mud". Powerful and vivid! You have to publish it!

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  7. PS, I so hope your action against the council is successful! If you make enough money from this book, you can buy the field and save the snails! As for this brilliant phrase "the mendacious offspring of unwed parents, I love it. I am going to be much more succinct though. B******s

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    1. Thanks lovely Val! I have to offer the book to my agent first... but if she thinks no 'big' publisher will take it, I ain't gonna sit around - straight into self-publishing!

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  8. You could be onto a winner here. Love your crisp, evocative style and the way your words build up pictures in the mind - almost like being there.
    Look forward to learning more! In fact, I might even start saving up to buy a copy!
    Great stuff, Carol.

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    1. Thanks Jacy. I'll send you a copy to review!

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  9. Managed to get on your blog from my hospital bed so you are honoured as I'm paying for wi fi on my phone. Loved the beginning of your book better than the one I have spent 3 days reading in here rotten beginning and terrible ending. I'm scared to say it's name on here in case I offend anyone. Hope you win over Tge council.

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    1. Thanks lovely. Not happy about your location!! Hope you are back at home very soon!

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  10. Wow! Lots of mist! And miasma too! :D
    Seriously, looks like a good read. Cant' wait.

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  11. Just switched on to find diamond-quality writing crying out to be read and to be published. Fabulous, Carol, really evoking Victorian London brilliantly.
    Ferrari?????? You LOVE that 2CV! It craves a taste of Tuscany too.
    I really believe that the snails will win the day, that the council will crumble, that the book will fly and that Carol Hedges will be raised in bronze next to the Westfield picnic bench, itself made permanent for the good residents of Harpenden. Optimists and snails rule, ok?

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    1. Thanks. You're probably right. I'd ship the 2CV out there. Tho' it's not going to happen! Glad you enjoyed the segment of novel. Hoping some encouraging comments will spur me on the finish the editing. I HATE editing!

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  12. You've definitely established the mood with this one, Carol.

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  13. Hi Carol
    Sadly I too am in the club of having an agent who hasn't yet found a home for my novel. I always dreamed of having an agent and becoming successful, but now I know that finding an agent seems to be the first step on a very long ladder!!
    I loved your excerpt and cross my fingers for the little snails.
    Ange x

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    1. Funny how unagented writers assume stuff about having an agent!! My agent (and I'm with a 'biggie' and she's very nice) sent out 5 novels - which she enjoyed,each to 20 publishers. All refused. In these straightened times, with bookshops closing, publishers are only interested in 'instant' hits or celebs. Steady mid-listers are not taken on any more by pubs. who have got used to being greedy. I make Usborne a small regular profit.Not enough, sadly. Thank goodness for self-publishing.

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  14. Fabulous start Carol- I do want to read more, please!Love your evocation of Victorian through the use of mist- clever.

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  15. Fabulous opening - bring on the villa in Tuscany! Have visions of you, the snails and several hundred writer friends living there in harmony ...

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  16. Thanks Bernie and Juliet - your encouraging comments will spur me on!

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  17. (Joining the debate a little late) Even though I hate snails.. Yay for Roman Snails and Go Carol! The novel sounds amazing too. Good luck with it :-)

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