October 26, 2008

Since returning from France I’ve been working sporadically on a new novel, IN THE PLACE OF JOY AND LAUGHTER. Yesterday it finally started to open up for me, revealing more and more of what the characters are about.

Sometimes I write with a game plan and a fully conceived plotline in my head, while at other times I simply go with my intuition. This is one of the latter, and the going has been slow. I don’t feel I am suddenly about to start zipping along, but now I have a much better sense of where things are heading.

Part of the difficulty is that there are three concurrent timelines and three separate characters who don’t fully link till later in the book. It’s been a challenge keeping the book feeling like a whole entity rather than a series of aimless wanderings.

October 15, 2008

Apart from being in Paris, two moments stand out from my recent trip to France. By chance we stumbled on the highway along the Normandy coast where the D-Day invasions took place. Omaha Beach, at Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer, was one of the prime locations for the Allied landings under Churchill and Eisenhower. If it had been in North America, Disney and McDonalds would have set in, Yuppies would have gentrified and over-built the area. Here, a single monument and a statue suffice to commemorate the scarcely imaginable battle that took place there on June 6, 1944. Apart from sand and sea, there is little else than silence stretching along the shore.

Heading back through the Loire Valley we stopped at Illiers-Combray, famous for having served as the setting for parts of Proust’s monumental À LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU. It’s a small, unimposing village, whose church, memorialized in the same book, is much smaller and far less spectacular than Proust’s rendering—not a surprise. Still, the village has an otherworldly charm, especially by twilight, despite its total lack of pretension or even any seeming interest in the tourist trade.

October 10, 2008

As always, Paris is a whirlwind of sights and sounds, grandeur and beauty.

While Prague and Budapest can compete with it for majesty, no other city can compare for the richness of its cultural history. Paris was where the 20th century was, that eccentric raconteur of concision Gertrude Stein declared. As usual, she got it right.

Where else can you say Proust and Joyce shared a cab at that corner, Fitzgerald and Hemingway drank in that bar, while over there Charles De Gaulle gave his historic speech on the liberation of Paris from the Nazis?

Where else can you spend an afternoon visiting the graves of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, and then pop over to visit 19th century near-neighbours Frederic Chopin and the unjustly neglected Luigi Cherubini (whom Beethoven declared the greatest living composer)?

That’s my Paris. And so much more.

October 2, 2008

In between filling out those all-important grant applications (Writers' Reserve, etc.) and getting ready to leave for Paris, I've been working on my latest novel, In The Place of Joy and Laughter, a fairly serious literary work about life, death and dancing. (One of the characters is a choreographer.) It seems I've been spoiled by thriller writing, because suddenly I've been reduced from averaging 2500 words a day to something more like 250, if that. I forgot how slow going writing can be at times, though the trade-off is finding this book is producing some of the best prose I've ever written.


All materials on this website copyright 2007 Design by Transform Interactive .\\edia