One of the reasons I came to New Zealand was to research location, atmosphere, ideas etc for my fantasy novel idea. Certainly, it has provided me with pages and pages of random descriptions and fragments in my notebook (though, damn me, why do I never know the names of trees?). I truly thought that while here, my heart would settle on my fantasy story.
I didn’t bet on the sheep.
You may remember that I have been working on both the fantasy novel and a Kimberley Freeman novel for a few weeks. We did a farmstay back near the glaciers a few nights ago that really changed everything. As I was sitting out on the front deck, looking at the mountains and the horses and the sheep, it was as though a vein opened up in my imagination and all the images started pouring out. I tightly plotted the first few chapters and then decided I actually had to write something, and I’ve been adding little bits ever since. Then, today, I had a little nap while my daughter slept, and woke up with a prologue complete in my head: and I love it. So Field of Clouds wins, and I will save my Mad King for later in the year.
I think one of the problems is that I need to do so much research for the fantasy novel. It sounds mad: fantasy should be just made up, right? But it’s not. Good fantasy gives you the feeling that the world was already there, that it already existed before the hapless writer’s imagination wandered into it. I’m very keen to learn much more about seventh-century England, so that I can build that world with such detail and care: so that it feels real to me, before I go about pushing my poor galley slaves… er… characters around in it.
So, in some ways, I will still be working on both. While I go on my uber-fun journey via 1920s Glasgow, to midlands Tasmania in world war two, to present-day London and New York; I will diligently be reading the book on Anglo-Saxon weapons that my bestie bought me for my birthday, learning about daily life in the seventh century (studiously ignoring the truth about dental care), and maybe even drawing… wait for it… a map!
My first goal is to make good use of my time in February, to get a big chunk done before semester starts at uni. Wish me luck, and watch this space.